National Park Service
GEWA Community Partnerships Workshop
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“When plans are…created with input from stakeholders and supporters, they establish a community vision for the future and inspire a spirit of collaboration whereby partners pull together to make the vision a reality.”

- From the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
Partner Education Plan
, p. 4

Engaging communities, local leaders, and stakeholders early in planning processes does several things. Regardless of the type of planning, when local leaders and interest groups help to shape a plan, they feel ownership of the result and a greater investment in the park and their community’s future. In addition, the process and dialogue help uncover common values and concerns and lead to a plan that benefits both the community and the park in ways that might not have been anticipated.

Through engagement, parks and communities develop mutually supportive relationships and shared visions for the future that carry into implementation. The stronger relationships that develop through engagement in planning can have value far beyond the final plan itself, and lead to a sense of community and common purpose that pays dividends in other settings as well.

The following resources provide additional information on civic engagement:

A case study on civic engagement in general management planning at New Bedford National Historical Park can be found in the Case Studies section of this website.

The NPS Conservation Study Institute publication, Stronger Together: A Manual on the Principles and Practices of Civic Engagement, includes many examples of civic engagement in practice.

The Community Tool Box developed by the Northeast Region's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program provides guidance for working in and with communities to accomplish shared goals.

NPS Director’s Order #75A explains the National Park Service’s commitment to civic engagement and public participation and how civic engagement differs from the public participation that is a required part of decision-making processes.

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