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I am civically minded and wanted to give back to my community.

I realized a way to get more housing in my community was through planning, so I looked into joining my community planning group.

I want to stay in my community and this is a way to contribute my love for the community.

These were some of the experiences shared by four panelists last week on why they joined their community planning group. The event “How to Join Your Community Planning Group” was organized and hosted by Circulate San Diego to encourage more folks to get involved. The evening provided a hearty discussion of benefits from getting involved and advice on how to get started.

For those that could not attend the event, Circulate San Diego maintains a resource page for how members of the public can join their community planning groups.

How to Get Started

Panelists had good advice on how to get started with a community planning group that they shared through Q&A as well as through their personal testimonies.

-         Join a Subcommittee: Several of the planning groups have subcommittees like transportation, urban design, and others. Contact the chair to ask which are available in your community.

-         Get on an email list: It doesn’t get easier than this. Get on the right list to receive emails on meetings and other announcements to become familiar with the issues the planning group is dealing with.

-         Attend meetings to listen: As one of the panelists commented, getting involved in the planning group allows you to learn what people value and why. Attend meetings to hear discussion and determine whether or not you are still interested.

-         Meet with the chair or someone else on the committee: It may seem overwhelming to join and participate, but find out from people who are active on their planning group what’s really happening. As shared by one of the panelists, meeting with folks already involved and talking can also help develop mutual respect for one another.

-          In communities where being elected to the community planning group is highly competitive, do all of the things above to develop more relationships in the community and help folks recognize you as an interested person.

Overall, the panelists were very complimentary of their experience touting it helped them join in dialogues about issues they care about, gave them a different perspective, supported personal professional development, and provided personal fulfillment from being involved in the community.

We know there are tough issues discussed by community planning groups. One of the panelists summarized the experience well: Being involved in civic engagement is rewarding – at times frustrating – but this type of discourse in our communities is important.

Last week’s event was co-sponsored by BikeSD, Center on Policy Initiatives, League of Women Voters, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, and the San Diego Leadership Alliance.