Community Forum

Community Forum

WELCOME TO THE YRCAA COMMUNITY AIR QUALITY FORUM

The Community Forum Scheduled for 8/14/2017 has been Cancelled

 

Community Air Quality Forum

Purpose

The purpose of the Community Air Quality Forum (Forum) is to provide a means for informational exchange between the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency (Agency) and persons with questions or concerns regarding air quality issues.  To accomplish this purpose, a forum has been established to conduct meetings which are open to the public and invite public participation.

Routine Meetings

The Agency Public Information Officer will moderate the regular public meetings to exchange information about air quality issues over which the Agency has jurisdiction. The Director shall set the agendas for meetings and work to resolve any issues regarding process or schedule. Meetings shall be audio recorded and a Written meeting summaries shall be prepared by Agency staff.

Venue

Forum meetings will normally held at the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency office, 329 North 1st Street, Yakima, WA, in the Conference Room. If participation is such that a larger room is needed, an alternate meeting location shall be used.

Dates and Time

Forum meetings will be conducted quarterly, on the Monday following the month's regular Board meeting. If such a Monday falls on a holiday, the meeting shall be held on the following Tuesday. Meetings shall start at 1:00 PM and end no later than 3:00 PM.

Agenda

Each meeting will have an agenda which shall be strictly followed. Fixed time limits shall be assigned to each agenda item. Each meeting agenda shall consist of the following:

Process

The process shall be an open exchange regarding specific, identified issues of concern. The exchange shall be relevant to the issues and shall only include questions answers and discussion. The process shall not include debate about information. Open exchange will be permitted until such time as an issue is fully addressed or moved to old business for the next meeting. As part of the process, each participant is asked to: 

Work to identify and discuss specific issues;

Reporting

Meeting summaries and agendas will be posted on the Agency website and be made available on request. The Executive Director will report to the Board of Directors at the next Board meeting on the previous Forum meeting and on the overall progress of the Forum.

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Ground Rules for Forum Meetings

  1. All meetings will be open to the public;
  2. Meetings will start and end on time;
  3. Since the Forum will be comprised of people with a variety of perspectives and interests,  different opinions are to be expected and must be respected by all participants. Discussions  will be characterized by careful deliberation and civility; 
  4. Participants are encouraged to keep an open mind to diverse interests of others. Questions to better understand each participant’s interests are encouraged;
  5. The Forum is not a decision-making body;
  6. Agency staff will be responsive to all information requests from participants. However, it may not be possible to provide all information. Any information requests outside of the forum meetings should be made through the Public Information Officer.   Requests for public records   should be made through the Public Records Officer

Role of the Facilitator

An Agency staff member or Board member shall facilitate each meeting. In addition to the roles described above, the facilitator shall: 

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Terms of Engagement

In addition to the ground rules, forum members are expected to understand and agree to the following terms of engagement. 

Step 1: Get our motives right before we engage.

Each of us has to begin by working on our self. When we use our best skills first, we find it easier to dialogue with another person, regardless of how skillful or emotional that person is. We should note that we will be debating or arguing. The motive or purpose for a debate or an argument is to win. When we want to win, we can play all kinds of verbal games. For example, we can argue about what a fact is. We can argue about whether or not a fact is relevant to the discussion. We can stack the deck. We can belittle others' facts, and so on.

Instead of debating facts, we should clarify that what we want is to understand, learn, share, and find the most reasonable solutions while maintaining respect. Such a motive will help us dialogue instead of debate. When we get your motive right, we can roll out the communication skills we already have. These include listening, asking questions to clarify, and summarizing so we demonstrate that we understand and that we are trying to understand. When we do this, we begin conversing instead of disputing.

Step 2: Agree on how we'll talk together.

We need to make two agreements. First, we need to agree on a mutual purpose (identify and address the issue). If we can’t identify and address the issue, we shouldn’t engage at all. Second, we need to agree about how we engage. Also, if we agree on several ground rules, we’ll make it safe to talk. For example, we might say that we'll only have our conversations at agreed upon times at an agreed upon place that is neutral and free of distraction. And we'll use our best skills such as listening, sharing, and maintaining respect.

The second agreement we need to make is to call a time out. If the conversation becomes combative, argumentative, emotional, or if we're just plain stuck, call a time out and take a five-minute break then start again with a renewed commitment to use our best skills. Once a conversation gets emotional, we can get caught up in the rush of the adrenaline or in the certainty that we're right and that it's our turn to win. After our break, begin again by clarifying the mutual purpose. Take turns asking, "What is your goal?" then ask, "What is our goal? What is the purpose of this dialogue?" When we clarify that our mutual purpose is to address the identified issue, we are less likely to use tactics that further selfish or opposing purposes.

Step 3: Record important decisions.

At the heart of our ongoing debate is this: either we have opposing purposes and we're trying to use facts to help us win; or we can't remember what the facts are. To overcome this problem, record important decisions, particularly at the end of a forum meeting, when we decide who does what by when and how to follow up. This is important because recall is unsafe and can be unreliable. Recall can diminish in the rush of other urgencies and deadlines. So write down the facts. What commitments were made? What decisions were made?

If the reason we dispute the facts is that we can't remember them or that we’ve "twisted" them to fit our personal purpose, then we need a record that is more reliable than memory. More than a few times, we have all probably discovered belatedly that we've been part of the problem. We probably have also discovered that when we get our motives right and use our best skills, we can be part of the solution. Sometimes we have to step out of the content of the conversation and get agreements about how we'll talk. This helps clarify expectations, helps make it safe to talk about tough issues, and it helps us use our best skills. 

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Forum Scheduling

YRCAA Community Air Quality Forums are scheduled to take place the Monday following the YRCAA Board of Directors meetings.  YRCAA Board of Directors meeting takes place the second Thursday of the month.  

The Forums are held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency Conference Room, 329 North 1st Street, Yakima, WA  98901  

Currently, the Forums are scheduled to meet quarterly:

1. Monday April 17th,2017                           2. Monday August 14th, 2017                        3. Monday December 18th,2017

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Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency
329 North First Street
Yakima, WA. 98901-2303
Phone: (509) 834-2050

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