“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.