Community Outreach: CPF Auxiliary Board at the 2016 PAC Conference

 
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Thank you to everyone who attended the 2016 PAC Conference!

CPF Auxiliary Board Member, Lucas Bezerra, donated his time and expertise to attend and speak during multiple PAC Conference sessions. Read more:

On Saturday, March 5, the Chicago Parks Foundation hosted its annual Park Advisory Council (PAC) conference at Kennedy King College, one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago. The conference brought together the various PACs throughout Chicago to discuss how they can successfully engage their communities and properly promote their park.

As an active member of the Chicago Parks Foundation Auxiliary Board, I shared my expertise in public relations and social media community management that I’ve built while working at Edelman Public Relations.

There are three key takeaways from the conference I’d like to share:

1. PACs are awesome 

Before attending the conference, I had read much about the PACs, but had no idea how giving, tenacious and integral these PAC members are to their community.

Park Advisory Councils consist of community members who meet on a regular basis to support the effective functioning of their local park. They host events, engage the community and provide community feedback to the Chicago Park District.

 Lucas and his coworker, Kenzie Grob (far left), watching James Burns present at "Connecting Communities: What Does It Mean?"

Lucas and his coworker, Kenzie Grob (far left), watching James Burns present at "Connecting Communities: What Does It Mean?"

Two PAC members inspired me when they presented their work during the “Connecting Communities: Communications – What Does It Mean?”.

James Burns, President of South Branch PAC shared his PAC’s work as the South Branch park expands and develops new plans that community members have been debating. He shared insights on how to bring the community together to serve as an outlet to discuss the changes. A tough but important job.

 Amy Jahnke, Co-Secretary of Horner PAC presented on Horner PAC’s creation of a vibrant community program that garnered media attention and community engagement. The project continues to be successful and is truly inspiring work.
 

2. Social media and public relations is integral to successful community engagement 

 PAC members during the hands-on social media training

PAC members during the hands-on social media training

The aforementioned examples contained excellent demonstrations of how public relations is integral to a successful PAC. However, it is also important to highlight the necessity of face to face dialogue. James mentioned how important it is to engage with community members in person. This type of feedback is important for PACs to hear in order to serve their community members in the best way possible. 

That being said, engaging with the community on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and traditional media (newsletters, daily newspapers, community papers, broadcast outlets, etc.) is integral to successful public recognition. Although PACs have limited resources, online media outlets can be leveraged at little to no cost. At Edelman, we believe that in order to make a change in an idea/mindset or affect a decision, an individual must experience at least seven points of contact. (See Edelman Trust Barometer, 2016)
 

3. Collaboration between the Chicago Parks Foundation and the PACs is strong 

 CPF Aux Board Chairs, Conor Gee and Ariana Bennett, talking to PAC members about It's Your Park Day along with Sandra Grigoletti from Home Depot 

CPF Aux Board Chairs, Conor Gee and Ariana Bennett, talking to PAC members about It's Your Park Day along with Sandra Grigoletti from Home Depot 

The Chicago Parks Foundation (CPF) has many assets that came to the fore at this conference. CPF hosted the event, coordinated speakers and provided monetary support. In addition, CPF’s skills-based Auxiliary Board, of which I am a member, were present at this event. The CPF Auxiliary Board works to engage young professionals, contribute donations, and participate in CPF events.  

I was able to bring my set of skills to the conference and counsel PACs on using media to compel members of their communities to engage with their parks. That is what being part of the Chicago Parks Foundation Auxiliary Board is all about and I look forward to the next time I can contribute.


Congratulations to the winners of Chicago Parks Foundation’s 2016 PAC Vision: Connecting Communities Award:

McKinley Park Advisory Council
Euclid Park Advisory Council
West Ridge Nature Preserve Park Advisory Council 

 
Jennie Scheerer