May 08, 2014
Tips for Hosting Your Own Community Wildfire Preparedness Day Event
Authors: Michelle Medley-Daniel
Last week’s Wildfire Preparedness Day was an opportunity for communities around the country to come together and take action. Many of the Network’s hub organizations hosted events to celebrate and spread the FAC message. Each of the hubs tailored their event for their community. They’ve shared some tips that you can use when planning an outreach event in your community.
Invite the Media to Cover Your Event
Austin, Texas approached Wildfire Preparedness Day as an opportunity to deliver information through a conference style event. They were able to attract media coverage of the event, helping them reach even more citizens with their FAC message. In addition to traditional media coverage, organizers used the occasion to attract new followers to their Twitter feeds and Facebook pages—doubling their following as a result.
Organize a Neighborhood-wide Purchase of Reflective Street Signs
In Colorado’s Front Range a proactive group of Aspen Hills neighbors in Teller County spent Wildfire Preparedness Day installing fire-resistant street signs in their neighborhood. The group organized a neighborhood-wide buy of reflective metal address signs for individual homes from the local fire department. By pooling their resources and working as a neighborhood, the event was an opportunity to cooperate and build relationships with neighbors. Building relationships before a fire is a great way to strengthen connections and use positive peer influence to encourage homeowners to take appropriate action.
Engage Popular Partners
When asked what they want to be when they grow up, many children go with a classic: firefighter. Follow the example of Towns County, Georgia where local FAC leaders hosted Wildfire Preparedness Day events in partnership with fire stations around the county. Having a fire truck and some fire service personnel on hand to help deliver FAC messages is a crowd pleaser and helps draw people in.
Host Service Events in Public Spaces that the Community Cares About
In Durango, Colorado the community hosted a mitigation project at Rio Vista Park. The city arborist, Colorado State Forest Service district forester, county weed program director, FireSmart mitigation crew, Red Cross and FireWise came together to clean up along the narrow gauge railroad line through town. Locating their day of service event in a visible public area brought people together to care for a community resource.
Host Your Event at a Strategic Time
We all have to make strategic decisions about when and where to spend our outreach resources. While hosting an event on May 3rd capitalizes on the national effort, and helps community members see themselves as part of a larger movement, in some cases events and outreach on other dates are more appropriate.
Summit County, Colorado had 10 inches of new snow in the days leading up to May 3rd. Because of this they are planning to host a wildfire preparedness event later in May when the community’s attention turns toward fire season.
Join Forces with Another Community Event to Reach a Large Audience
In Santa Fe, New Mexico the Forest Guild hosted an information table and demonstration at a community Earth Day celebration in late April. By joining in with this event where there were many exhibits, they were able to take advantage of a large crowd without the work of advertising a standalone event. Their booth was strategically placed next to the Farmer’s Market and was well attended. Their display featured FAC information for homeowners and activities for kids.
Effective community outreach has to be tailored for your audience and message. What tips or tricks have you used to engage your community in FAC?