Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series from SF2011 Fellow Marielle Earwood on lessons she has learned working on San Francisco’s Urban Watershed Framework, inside the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Coming in as a Fellow, with minimal exposure to large office or agency-wide politics, I had no idea of the level of communication and coordination that existed within the agency that I am placed, the SFPUC (SF Water, Power, Sewer). As I continued to meet more staff in different divisions and teams, it became very clear to me that there is a need for additional coordination and, even further, simply more communication.
As the Urban Watershed Framework Coordinator, my main role is to bring groups together, to get those people who otherwise would not be talking to each other, talking and interacting. So, in an effort to put the message out there – the one that everyone knows but does not have time to address, the message of the need for more communication within the agency – I coordinated Watershed Community Connects: a gathering to facilitate more communication and to provide the space to get to know people on different, yet related teams. The participants included SFPUC staff from multiple divisions that work on watershed related projects. – and it was a success! The turnout was great. There was a group activity that got everyone talking, a potluck meal, a reflective process where participants wrote out their comments and ideas collectively in planning for future similar gatherings, and it was great! Attendees seemed to enjoy themselves during this first attempt to facilitate further communication, coordination and collaboration in this sub-community within the SFPUC. This event was hopefully the first of many.