Well before you mark your actual HighWaterLine, it’s helpful to walk the potential route(s) you would like to demarcate. This will allow you to meet the people who live along the line as well as invite them to participate. It is also an opportunity to observe everything you will be demarcating and give you time to adjust your route based on what you observe and more.
Below is a sample checklist you can bring with you on your walk. Feel free to make it your own and add sections you think are important to include based on your specific community.
Walking the line gives you a chance to meet the people who live along the line. If you know people on or near (within a few blocks) of the line, engage them in helping you to conduct outreach. Bring a map of the data you are considering as a way to engage people in conversations about the project. We do not recommend leaving maps or flyering neighborhoods with maps as the spirit of the project is to facilitate spaces for face to face conversations. Simply leaving maps with no conversation might have the opposite effect of what the project seeks to do.
Community Meeting Spots
Learn where people from the community regularly meet and hang out – popular cafes, community centers, playgrounds, parks, farmer’s markets, places of worship. These are great places for meeting members of the community and informing them of your project. Some of these locations may also be spots to find thought leaders (well known shop owners, community groups, religious leaders) with whom you can engage, and then together, you can engage others.
There are people in every community who are respected and trusted by the rest of the community. They can help spread the word about the project and invite folks to participate. They might be a grandmother who knows all the families around her, or a community member who is engaged in many of the community’s public events. Leaders in diverse places of worship are also also often respected by their congregations who reside in the community. Engaging with community leaders is essential.
Schools & Universities
Many teachers are often open to participating in projects where there is a real world opportunity to bring science, art or other topics they teach to life. If there is a school on or nearby the line try approaching them about participating. If it’s not feasible for them to participate, offer to do a presentation to their classes about the HighWaterLine project, sharing how the school will be demarcated and why. Schools tend to need a lot of notice for such projects. Asking them in advance is a great way to engage them.
Universities often have groups interested in communicating social justice, environmental, and other issues to their colleagues, these groups could be invited to mark their campuses.
Cultural institutions located in a neighborhood often have value in the community, as well as at the city, regional level and beyond. These institutions might include museums, theaters, gardens and historical monuments. These institutions might be able to set up parallel programming (exhibits on climate change) or bring members to help delineate the line. They might also support the project in new and interesting ways that you might learn about once you engage them in a conversation.
Critical Transportation: Roads, Bus Lines, Train Routes and more…
As you walk this route look to see if there are important roads, bus routes, train tracks or other transportation routes people rely on to move around. Using your imagination and the data you have attained: do you think having these sections under water due to flooding or sea level rise will impact other areas of the region that rely on these routes for frequent transportation? If yes, how might you engage people who will be impacted by having these critical transit routes flooded or under water?
Community Infrastructure: Power Plants, Drinking Water Facilities and more…
Many people living in coastal communities know the powerful corrosive properties of salt water. Large volumes of fresh water can also overwhelm and debilitate infrastructure, especially anything electrical. Many of the large facilities that urban communities rely on to provide clean drinking water or electricity might be vulnerable to flooding or sea level rise. In addition, there may be hazardous waste disposal sites vulnerable to flooding.
As you walk your route take note of any power plants or power lines that connect these plants to communities, and/or facilities that provide the drinking water to your community. Also be aware of any sewage treatment plants and transportation hubs. Will these places be demarcated by your line? If they will, you might want to call them and ask what their emergency response plans are for extreme floods or sea level rise. This information can then be shared with other HighWaterLine participants.
Bringing together siloed communities
Your line might traverse through communities divided by social or physical infrastructure. HighWaterLine becomes an opportunity to unite neighborhoods to build community resilience to future floods or storms as the line reveals how all the communities are connected by flooding and sea level rise.