Last month, the Central New York Community Foundation hosted the Lead Task Force Strategic Planning meeting – an initiative designed to focus on collaborative efforts to decrease lead poisoning in Central New York. The meeting was moderated by the National Center for Healthy Housing which divided participants into focus groups to discuss and brainstorm solutions.
The periodic transition from small groups to full-scale dialogue allowed participants to promote diverse, but incredibly fleshed-out ideas.
First and foremost, the participants emphasized that the time to address lead poisoning is now. While the dialogue is a wonderful starting point, they explained that actually taking concrete measures to decrease case numbers is a cornerstone of real change. Secondly, participants noted that support for programming needed a “bottom to top” approach – in other words, listening to people in the community, and centering their voices around the work itself.
“This strategic planning session was important because it gave us new and necessary direction to strategically address the lead poisoning issue in Central New York,” said Darrell Buckingham, Community Foundation program officer. “This process reengaged old partners and invited new players to work together and share ideas, [and] future meetings will serve as our continued guide to remind us of what we want to accomplish, why we want to accomplish them and when.”
For example, the group proposed five strategic directions, all of which were looked at through a racial equity lens. They included: data sharing, engaging and empowering inclusive communities, expanding testing, maintaining a sustainable coalition, and increasing contractor training.
Throughout the meeting, participants engaged in logistical discourse to outline necessary monetary and community needs to address lead poisoning. The sheer number of participants highlighted the community’s hope for change, and willingness to collaborate. Going forward, the coalition of participants will work to help inform a future plan for our LeadSafeCNY funding.
“There is increased interest in having a knowledgeable community voice to lead the charge,” Buckingham said. “Feedback from the community is crucial to our work to face lead poisoning head on.”