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How Can Cities and Communities Collaborate for Greater Impact?

“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.”

~ Civil Rights and Labor Activist Grace Lee Boggs

Process-Guide for City-Community Collaboration

Making changes in climate and energy policy is a complex process requiring clear communication and coordination. The success of any  new policy  hinges on having communities be a part of every step in the development process on projects. This generates substantial benefits to all, in turn, increasing trust between policy makers and these communities. This fosters a positive feedback loop between cities and communities and helps spur even more climate action.


Over 100 cities across the country have expressed to Greenlink that they need accurate data to help understand and assess the equity gaps and imbalances within their cities as a basis for informing climate and sustainability strategies. In addition to this data, cities are recognizing more that they need better collaboration between their staff and these communities to have stronger and more effective policies that rapidly reduce carbon emissions.


Successful collaboration requires a bridge between the city government and community organizers. That’s the point of the Process Guide for City-Community Collaboration, aka the Process Guide. It encourages a different approach to policy making – one that flips the creation process from top down to bottom up - to ensure that the community plays a leadership role in decision making of implementation. The point is for policy to be designed together. 

“The Process Guide is a 43-page document with detailed infographics and insights to support cities and communities in making the best use of data created from the Greenlink Equity Map (GEM), or other sources, to start conversations for collaboration,” explains Samantha Houk, Community Project Manager.

In 2021, two incredible partners of Greenlink – Minna Taloui, a racial equity expert with Upright Consulting, and Rosa Gonzalez, a collaborative governance maven and founder of Facilitating Power – spearheaded the development of the Process Guide. The guide is meant to be used in tandem with GEM since its data provides an objective foundation for city staff and communities to start having conversations.  

The Process Guide has been downloaded over 600 times, and has supported the creation of collaborative policy making across the country in small municipalities to large metro areas. 


“To achieve the vision of thriving urban centers with the capacity to survive and thrive through crises, city staff and impacted communities will need to work together in meaningful ways,” says the Process Guide. “We hope this GEM guide offers worthwhile examples of what that work can entail, and practices that support an acceleration of efforts to advance community-driven solutions to our toughest challenges.”

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