coordination as a skillset: moving the Urban Watershed Framework forward

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series by SF2011 Fellow Marielle Earwood on lessons she has learned working on San Francisco’s Urban Watershed Framework, inside the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

by SF2011 Fellow Marielle Earwood

My role as the Urban Watershed Framework (UWF) Coordinator has been to keep track of the moving parts of this effort and keep things moving forward. The UWF is a process for taking an integrated watershed approach (looking at all the levels of a watershed), identifying the problem areas and opportunities, involving the public in weighing in on possible projects, weighing out the cost of benefits of each project alternative, and finally, implementing the projects with the highest score, all encompassed under the SFPUC’s Sewer System Improvement Program projects. Helping to develop the UWF involves coordinating multiple groups from within the SFPUC as well as citywide agencies and public stakeholders. There has been a lot of push and pull, hard lessons, understanding, clarity and growth through being in this position. There are times when I start to think that my role is only coordination, that so many pieces need to be strung together to pull this effort together. It can get frustrating when I feel like I want to hone in on a specific area of the UWF and become an expert myself – not just coordinate the experts in developing the UWF.

After a year in the position, however, I have realized that coordination is key in a successful project, especially this one. I am slowly beginning to realize that not everyone is a planner, and planning is a skill set and can be a type of expertise. The UWF needs coordination and planning to make something happen – and that is my role. I make things happen through bringing people together. It took almost a year for me to fully encompass my role as the Urban Watershed Framework coordinator, but now I get it – coordination is my skill set, and with that strong skill set, I am helping make the Urban Watershed Framework HAPPEN!

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