CBNO Major Accomplishments
The nature of CBNO’s work is such that our accomplishments tend to be less tangible than planting trees, building houses or feeding children. We like to think that they are equally important – and that in fact, they help create a city with fewer hungry children living in better houses under a beautiful tree canopy!
- Master Plan Review and Amendment Process. This process, mandated by the City Charter, stretched out across the entire year. CBNO began by producing, releasing and distributing the Community Guide to the Master Plan Amendments, presenting virtually all of the 300+ proposed amendments in a readable, accessible format. Following release of the Guide, participation at the next round of Master Plan hearings doubled, and many residents and neighborhood organizations told us that the Guide was essential to their ability to understand and comment on the amendments. CBNO proposed and had adopted its own amendment, requiring an update to the city’s completely outdated and obsolete neighborhood boundary maps, which will contribute greatly to increasing public safety and generating more equitable distribution of government, private sector and philanthropic resources across the city.
- Big Easy Budget Game. This interactive website enables any New Orleans resident to create his/her own version of the city’s budget. In year two, we had more than 700 players, and thanks to extensive outreach, the demographics matched the city’s ethnic, economic and age demographics more closely than the previous year. This ensured that the resulting People’s Budget, as presented to the City Council, was an accurate, quantifiable reflection of the priorities of residents throughout New Orleans. International recognition of the Budget Game continued, as we were invited to present it at conferences as far-flung as Montreal and Buenos Aires. The Game also received the national Tech All-Stars award for civic innovation.
- Municipal Elections. On behalf of community voice in New Orleans, CBNO was a significant presence in the 2017 mayoral and City Council elections. We made sure that the Community Participation Program (CPP) was included in major issue platforms and candidate forums, including Forward New Orleans, EngageNOLA and the New Orleans Coalition. CBNO co-hosted televised candidate forums with WWL-TV for mayor (both primary and runoff) and City Council-at-Large, reaching the widest audiences of any forums during the campaign and enabling substantial numbers of voters to learn more about the candidates for these offices.
- Community Participation Program (CPP). During the campaign season, CBNO obtained written commitments from mayor-elect Cantrell and virtually the entire incoming City Council to adopt and implement the CPP. To assist the new government in doing so – and to ensure that the final CPP is truly accessible and inclusive – CBNO prepared a comprehensive implementation plan briefing for the transition team and new Council, and began assembling a large, diverse community coalition to bring residents’ voices to the implementation process.
- Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum. With a post-Katrina record number of applications, the 53rd Forum graduated 45 emerging leaders whose contributions will serve New Orleans and the region for many years to come.
- Big Easy Budget Game. This interactive website enables any New Orleans resident to create his/her own version of the city’s budget. It’s easy (most people need less than 15 minutes), fun and informative. CBNO then compiled the responses into the People’s Budget and delivered them to the City Council during the annual city budget process. We received great international media coverage of the Budget Game, in part because it is designed to be replicable for any city in the world. Bringing the Budget Game to the world is a key ongoing CBNO objective.
- Big Easy Budget Breakdown. A companion to the Budget Game is this information site that displays the city of New Orleans’ annual budget to actual spending for every year going back to 2006. Presented with many graphics for maximum accessibility, this enable anyone to get a clear idea of how the city collects and spends its revenues.
- Residents Guide to City Government. This comprehensive Guide to the departments and agencies of government in New Orleans enables residents and visitors alike to find the programs, services and answers they need.
- Neighborhood Participation Plan. The City Planning Commission adopted virtually all of CBNO’s recommendations to make the NPP stronger, meaning that going forward this first-ever community input mandate in New Orleans will serve both neighborhoods and businesses more effectively.
- Master Plan Amendment Process. The city launched a massive process to review and amend the New Orleans Master Plan, a document which impacts the lives of everyone who lives, works and/or plays in the city. CBNO made numerous community and neighborhood group presentations to explain the process and how people can have input into it. This work continues in 2017 with development and distribution of the Community Guide to the Master Plan Amendments. With more than 300 amendments proposed, a significant rewrite of the Master Plan is on the table, and the community must participate in order to retain ownership of its future.
- Spanish-Language Recipe and Nutrition Book. As part of our ongoing work to assist the large and growing Latino population in New Orleans in improving health status and outcomes, CBNO partnered with the Tulane Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine to provide a nutrition guide and cookbook, in Spanish and with both classic and new recipes based on Latino culinary styles and traditions.
- Neighborhood Participation Plan. Working with the City Planning Commission, CBNO completed a year-long review of the NPP, surveying both residents and applicants. While finding general satisfaction with the NPP, CBNO’s report contained specific recommendations to improve it; the Planning Commission is poised to adopt these improvements in March 2016. Also based on the survey findings, CBNO is now offering NPP Facilitation Services to help make the process work better for all involved (see the “Services” page of this website).
- Spanish-language clinic signage. With support from Chevron and the Coatney Family Foundation, CBNO produced and placed interior and exterior signage packages in five New Orleans health clinics. The clinics were selected due to their proximity to substantial Spanish-speaking populations. Within a week, one of the clinic reported seeing in an increase in Spanish-speaking patients. Also, the New Orleans Health Department incorporated findings from our 2014 report on Latino Health issues into its updated Community Health Improvement Plan.
- Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative. CBNO and our partners completed a comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Collaborative, and hired a Coordinator to manage it. This ensures the long-term stability of GNOWC and positions it to be the main voice and force in ensuring the implementation of best water management practices throughout the region. This will make homes, businesses and people safer while creating some exceptional new economic and recreational opportunities. On a more immediate level, we helped install rain gardens in Treme and Gentilly.
- Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum. We graduated 45 new leaders from the 2015 Forum, one of the largest and most diverse classes ever. Two sessions — Human Relations and City Management — were completely reconfigured, and a new session on Leadership was added. The Leadership session is offered to businesses and nonprofits as a stand-alone workshop; please see the “Services” page of this website for more information.
- Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative. CBNO convened the initial groups and individuals that became the Interim Steering Committee, which in turn launched the Collaborative in September. This is an action-oriented structure whose purposes are to be an information clearing house on water management in the greater New Orleans area, and to bring together expertise and stakeholders across all related sectors to implement best water management practices in public and private projects. Less flooding and subsidence, lower insurance rates, and new economic and recreation opportunities are just some of the benefits that will accrue from this.
- The Blight Resource Guide. A how-to guide for individuals, neighborhoods and community groups to fight blight in their areas. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a hard copy; it can also be downloaded from www.nolablightguide.com.
- Latino Community Health Survey report. In partnership with Puentes New Orleans and the New Orleans Health Department, we conducted a large-scale of New Orleans’ fastest-growing population segment about health issues and barriers to health care and a healthy lifestyle. The reports includes numerous recommendations to address the issues we identified, and CBNO is already working with our partners on implementing some of these and improving health outcomes for Latino residents of our city. The report can be downloaded from the Newsroom section of our website.
- People’s Budget Summit. Some sixty community residents, representing the full diversity of New Orleans, came together and joined in an exercise to create a People’s Budget. Their final product reflected the community’s desire to invest more proactively in family, infrastructure and quality of life, and less reactively in public safety. Participants gained a sense of how challenging it is to create the city’s budget, and left more capable of providing informed input into future budgets. CBNO is working to create an online version of this exercise in 2015.
- Advised city leaders on issues from zoning to community engagement to infrastructure. City Councilmembers sought our advice on zoning, budget and infrastructure matters. The Sewerage and Water Board sought our collaboration on green infrastructure. The City Planning Commission sought our recommendations for improving the Neighborhood Participation Program. Across the city, our colleagues in other organizations sought our leadership on community engagement for their work.
- The 50th Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum. This milestone class trained 32 up-and-coming New Orleans-area leaders who will soon be making their mark in all sectors.
- Fifth annual Diana Lewis Citizen Participation Awards. In 2014 we honored Carol Bebelle, of the Ashe Cultural Center, and the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana. Coleman Ridley of Forward New Orleans gave the keynote address.
- The City Planning NPP. The basis of a strong Citizen Participation Program (CPP) is ensuring that neighborhoods, residents and other stakeholders are made aware of potential developments – both private and public sector – at the beginning of governmental decision-making processes. Equally important is the opportunity for business people to have a timely conversation with the legitimate stakeholders. The City Planning NPP, adopted as an amendment to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) in August 2013, draws heavily on the NOLA-CPP model developed under the leadership of CBNO to create an “Early Notification” mandate that sets the framework for this conversation. This could be the death knell for the much-maligned “planning by surprise” that has plagued New Orleans for decades.
- Neighborhood Association Manual. An easy-to-use manual for starting a neighborhood association, or improving the operations and capacity of an existing association. Email email@example.com if you would like a hard copy, or download it from the Newsroom section of this website.
- Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum. Graduated another outstanding class of 36 future regional leaders.
- Diana Lewis Citizen Participation Awards. Another great luncheon, with a keynote speech by Sonia Perez, regional director for AT&T. Honorees were Joel Myers and the Vietnamese-American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA).
- Latino Community Survey Report. Working with our partner organization Puentes New Orleans, we conducted a survey of Latino residents’ attitudes towards government and civic engagement, and asked them about their needs and priorities. This will be used to help build coalitions within New Orleans’ diverse Latino communities; to connect Latino residents to neighborhood associations where they live; and to inform city government about how to better collaborate with and serve its Latino constituents.
- Neighborhood Boundary Mapping Pilot Project Report. The official New Orleans neighborhood boundary map is so out of date it might as well be written on parchment. Having a current and accurate map is essential for implementation of the City Planning NPP; it is also vital for new business development, equitable allocation of government resources, and many other important purposes. CBNO did a pilot mapping project in Planning District 6 (Gentilly) that resolved both boundary overlaps and gaps, and is moving forward with completing the other twelve Planning Districts.
- Orleans Public Education Network Summit. CBNO is a co-founder of OPEN, which is dedicated to ensuring sustainable excellence and equity in New Orleans public education. This summit presented the findings of two years of participatory research in New Orleans as well as a series of local and national best practices forums. The summit resulted in the development of consensus priorities and objectives for the New Orleans public schools across a very wide range of stakeholders. This work is continuing towards reaching consensus on a long-term governance structure for the New Orleans public schools.
- The CPP Experience. Birmingham (AL), a city not unlike New Orleans, has had a strong Citizen Participation Program in place since the late 1970s. CBNO and its partner the Neighborhoods Partnership Network brought a contingent of Birmingham leaders to New Orleans for peer to peer learning about the benefits of a CPP. The group included a former mayor, a current city council member, two neighborhood association presidents, the CEO of the city’s largest hospital, and the director of the city’s Office of Citizen Assistance. Over the course of a series of meetings and events with neighborhoods, city officials and business leaders, the Birmingham guests were highly effective in explaining the many advantages of a CPP; their recurring theme was painting their CPP as a three-legged stool upon which the success of their city is built.
Completion of the New Orleans Citizen Participation Program model. The culmination of three years of post-Katrina work, and built on research and community input going all the way back to 2003, the NOLA-CPP model has been nationally recognized as groundbreaking on several levels. CBNO convened and guided the process through which nearly 200 New Orleans residents designed this model, which is of itself an unprecedented approach to structured civic engagement. While founded on the basic framework of CPPs worldwide, the NOLA-CPP model includes the innovative Communities of Interest component, which provides both new avenues for residents to participate in the CPP and new resources to neighborhoods. The model was submitted to the City Planning Commission in September 2010; the first major piece of it was formally adopted in summer 2012.
- Formation of the New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG). This is an unprecedented collaboration of community organizations dedicated to achieving maximum openness and accountability in state and local governance. CBNO is a founding partner of the coalition; more information may be found by visiting the NOCOG website.
These are some of the major accomplishments of CBNO over the past three years. Along the way, we have produced many essential research papers, studies, manuals and other documents that have informed the work of government, neighborhoods and other community groups. We have collaborated with numerous other partners, such as our CPP pilot projects with the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association and the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance. We have participated in panels and conferences both locally and nationally, helping to inform colleagues on many vital issues even as we continue our own learning. And at every step of the way, we have made the strongest possible effort to engage, inform and empower the residents of one of the greatest cities in the world.