Author Topic: The Erie Canal Neighbor's Association - Lessons Learned  (Read 77 times)

Doug K

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The Erie Canal Neighbor's Association - Lessons Learned
« on: April 08, 2019, 10:43:06 am »
It's been nearly a year since the ECNA came into existence, June 15, 2018 to be exact. Just wanted to share some of our thoughts as we close in on an anniversary of sorts... both for our first year, and for that day when ECNA creators play less of a role as contributors & more of the role as moderator of the ECNA Forum or in Mike's case, dedicates himself to other Erie Canal Neighborhood Association interests.

Mike Caswell (Village of Fairport) contacted me in early 2018 after a contentious Perinton Town meeting on the Erie Canal Embankment Safety Program that was starting up in our area. He thought we could make a difference on how the message of Dam Safety was being understood & accepted by our neighbor's. After a few discussions we landed on the thought that if this endeavor was going to work we's have to build something that was missing from the ground up... a one stop website for all things related to Dam Safety.

We would be building something that would also have to outlive the need to have either of us directly involved, as this Canal Dam Program was destined to be out of our area by 2020 (based on the NY canal corporation's plans & schedule for the dam clearing work that was needed). What we settled on was combining several different types of social media into one neat package that would hold everything about the Erie Canal and it's need to survive. The Embankment Restoration Project and subsequent NYCC Embankment Integrity Program are part of that Erie Canal survival thought.

Mike was already running a Blog site for the Oxbow Lake area, a unique feature on the Erie that few know about but sits right in Mike's backyard. Here's a link to his Oxbow Blog

Mike also put an Erie Canal Vegetation Management Program website up as well, dedicated to spreading the safety message and also offering the arguments needed to insure people understood that dam clearing is a SAFETY initiative, not being done to "cash in" on selling the trees that were removed, as some  folks wanted their neighbor's to believe. Here's a link to the The Erie Canal Vegetation & Remediation Project page and also an ECNA Blog page:

We talked about the need for a different tool to help spread the information that many seemed to be missing about Dam Safety along the Canal. One that was more interactive, where members & guests could contribute ideas or thoughts, more a "two-way" conversation about the Erie Canal work and also the experiences the "neighbors" along the Embankments were starting to experience as the dam clearing started in early 2018. That conversation and idea led to the creation of the Erie Canal Neighbor's Association (ECNA), and the forum you are on right now.

The goal of the ECNA was simple it seemed;

Create a website that would link the rich history of the Erie Canal, the present NY Canal Corp's Dam Safety Program, and the FUTURE state that would unfold as Erie Canal "neighbors" now would be living with "brand new safe dams" in their communities.

We knew those first two needs could be met with static websites offering boring details about dam safety, and the laws regarding dam safety in our country. That last one had to be dynamic enough solution to change with the "mood" of the public as there was already a growing resentment of the changes coming to the Canal, supported by a grass-roots group that was sending the wrong message, but one that people wanted to be true. It would be great if we could someone squeeze everything about safety, history, dam repair & neighbor's input into ONE place...

That is why the ECNA Forum became the "flagship" of the ECNA, an interactive tool for everyone involved with the Erie Canal to use. It was an OPEN neighborhood that guests could also share in along with members.

You didn't need to be a Facebook user to use the ECNA tools
You didn't need to signup with a leader, or be "approved" to join the Neighborhood
You didn't even need to swear "loyalty" to the cause of Erie Canal safety just to see what the ECNA was all about or if you wanted to belong.

Anyone could open the ECNA.US website and have access to all the facts about dams, the truth about dam safety & laws trying to enforce that safety, and you could even see the evolution of Embankment Dam change right before your very eyes with pictures, videos and stories. It was all here, come try it out and see if it all makes sense to you, as a neighbor of the Erie Canal... or look & leave, saying you can live without it.

It has been a long journey to finally get here our completed ECNA Forum... and now it's time to pass this Neighborhood along as the NY Canal Corporation's Embankment Integrity work continues eastward across New York State.

Folks in Palmyra and other canal towns would benefit from having what we thought was originally missing, as they start to deal with this much needed change occurring to what has become New York's "Crown Jewel" of the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor. Folks in Clyde or Little Falls may need some ideas on how to deal with their own "misguided environmentalist" who want to ignore safety and discuss trees.

Hopefully others will find the value of reading how the first attempt in 100 years to make the Erie Canal safer for it's neighbor's all worked out. After all  the new "look" of the Erie Canal isn't really new at all, it's dams are cleared just like in 1818 & 1918.

The work of the ECNA's creators is approaching it's end, we will move to the roles of moderator & advisers as needed further East on the Canal. Hopefully it more technical advice then how do deal with "resistance to safety"... that is still a mystery to many. The future of the ECNA itself will depend on the willingness of Erie Canal neighbor's to engage each other, as they start living with the new reality of safe, clear, Erie Canal Embankments in their own neighborhoods... and all that brings to the communities around these dams.

Thank you for your time and for your patience, as we figured out how best to make this all work.

Doug Kucmerowski
ECNA Admin & Moderator 
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 10:17:16 pm by Doug K »

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