Vicky Scharlau, Executive Director

In the last two newsletters, we have reported the status and progress of a stakeholder engagement project initiated earlier this year with the formation of a Columbia Basin Project “Voices” Task Force, responsible for collecting stakeholder input on Columbia Basin Project priorities.  During the month of September, an electronic survey was promoted and disseminated to Project stakeholders, and in October, the 255 responses collected were analyzed by a contracted firm—Vega Nguyen Research--specializing in survey research.  In November, the League board was presented with a report detailing survey results and recommended next steps.  The outcomes served to validate what was known and account for what was not known.

We did a survey.  We asked questions. We combined the responses. We got a final report.

But so what?

The Voices survey report tells us some things we already knew. But really, now what? The League Board of Trustees and staff took a long, hard look at the report (many looks, in fact). We’ve read it cover to cover, we invited the authors and researchers in to share what they felt were the most important components. Because to make a difference, we must and are being intentional about the direction your “voice” has given us. (By the way, if you haven’t read the report, we suggest you at least read the Executive Summary.)

The League Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept the action items and recommendations of the Report as presented by VN Research and the Voices Task Force during their November meeting. This means 2020 is going to be a year of transition.

We hear you, and we plan to change the way the League operates. You want to be more involved; YOU want to be a part of the action. So that means we are upending the model. Turning it upside down. We will still be your advocate at both the state and federal level for the Columbia Basin Project, but guess what? So will YOU. And we know that many of you already are advocates. For some of you, its been decades. But we will be on the hunt for new Project warriors, new advocates to add their voices to yours and to ours. We will need your help to find those voices.

Like any federal project, the Columbia Basin Project needs an army of fierce advocates, defenders, and supporters. But now, we will give YOU the tools to take your message directly to those with the power to make a difference: Congress, your town halls, and your elected officials (ALL of them). Because these folks should be leading the way. Leading your efforts to see programs like the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program successfully completed, to maintain the precious infrastructure we have, and ultimately, see the Project through to completion.

Just like Columbia Basin Project completion, a solid plan takes time, intentionality, and of course, money to develop. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re thrilled to start heading down this path with you: our staunch supporters and advocates. We won’t turn things upside down on January 1, but we will be starting in 2020 with an intentional and impactful plan to take us there.

However, we don’t plan to stop the work we’ve been doing. We have been successful over the years in generating awareness and garnering support, and we are rethinking the way we will be doing that work. Of course, all of this comes with a price tag– time, more advocates, and the materials and messaging we need to be effective in setting our plan into action. For every dollar we spend, we expect a significant return on investment. But we need you to renew your commitment to help us achieve that ROI.

The entire 55-page report is available here: https://bit.ly/2psHJCc

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