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  • Engaging Communities In the Age of Social Media – Good, Bad or Ugly?

    Wednesday, December 11, 02:45 pm - 03:15 pm
    West Hall A – Area B
    Learning Lounges
    Track 4: Community Engagement and Environmental Justice
    City of Rock Falls initiated its Brownfields Program 15 years ago aiming to combat job losses and economic downturn by cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields along Rock River resulted from decades of historical industrial usage. As of today, at cleaned up brownfields properties at river front, a hotel was constructed with almost full occupancy; a community greenspace park with amphitheater was opened and has become community’s popular gathering place; and a YWCA and multi families redevelopment are in discussions. Getting support to the vision and engaging the community has been crucial in this revitalization process and is a key to the City’s success. Engaging the community can be a great experience or a nightmare. In this age of social media, Brownfields projects information can be easily disseminated to the community; however, the interpretation of that information may vary wildly. Oftentimes community leaders are not sure when or how to engage critics and naysayers on Brownfields projects. The City of Rock Falls has implemented highly visible Brownfields projects which sparked lively debates in our community before and during the process; but together we have cleaned up brownfields, achieved economic redevelopment, and improved community’s quality of life. Join us to learn proven creative and constructive ways to engage communities during brownfields revitalization and especially in this age of social media.
    Bill Wescott
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