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Highlight Local Knowledge - Coastal Inundation

Highlight Local Knowledge

Communication is a two-way street. Asking community members to share stories, experiences, and information helps them feel involved and keeps them engaged. Below are some techniques that can help them share their local perspectives.

Listening Session

A critical communication component includes hearing the perspectives of the target audience. A listening session is a helpful way to get community members to share their experiences and values with a planning team.

How One Community Used Listening Sessions to Discuss Coastal Hazard Concerns

The Albemarle-Pamlico Conservation and Communities Collaborative and Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program hosted seven listening sessions with coastal North Carolina community members. Information was shared on population growth and sea level rise, but more importantly, the team listened to community members’ reactions and strategies.

Questions participants answered:

  1. What changes are you seeing and experiencing in your communities and in your environment?
  2. What do you think the impacts of these changes will be on your community as they relate to sea level rise and population growth?
  3. What do you think are some of the solutions to these issues?

See the community members’ responses and learn more about the results.

Why This Worked

Stakeholders more readily believed facts and experiences related by community members and neighbors than by an “outsider.”

Social Media

Social media encourages community members to share their thoughts and notifies them of important community information. Social media can also be used to link those who have similar concerns or interests. This lower-cost option allows more people to be reached than by other methods.

social media
How One Community Is Using Social Media

To keep people informed and engaged in its community development planning process, Hamakua, Hawai’i, has set up a Facebook page. The district is asking people about their favorite places or problem areas in the community, keeping people informed about the planning process, highlighting upcoming events, and involving people in a photo project to share their photos of Hamakua. View Hamakua’s Facebook page.

Why This Is Working

This is a quick, fun way for community members to stay engaged, be heard, and see progress in their community.


Storyboarding helps tell the community “story” by tying together local maps and graphs, as well as photos, newspaper clippings, and other media, to help highlight vulnerabilities that communities are most concerned with and to identify possible solutions. View more storyboarding examples on the Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk training webpage.

story boarding
How One Community Used Storyboarding in Planning Activities

Miami-Dade County’s Office of Sustainability used storyboards to engage staff members from county offices impacted by hazards who may not have been thinking about hazards management in their daily operations and responsibilities.

Why This Worked

The county departments used maps, photos, county plans, and drawings to explain their concerns about hazard and climate change threats and vulnerabilities. The outcome: staff members who traditionally did not play a role in risk management were beginning to see how it links to their departments. Learn more about Miami-Dade’s approach.

Surveys and Interviews

Surveys and interviews can be effective tools for understanding the public’s attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs, and for identifying barriers. This knowledge can help direct decision-making. The Introduction to Survey Design and Delivery publication provides more detail on survey types and techniques.

Focus Groups

Focus groups can help generate ideas and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to express thoughts about specific topics and identify barriers. The Introduction to Conducting Focus Groups publication provides guidance.

How One Community Used a Survey and Focus Group

A regional climate task force representing Southeast Florida counties found that inconsistent inundation-mapping methods have led to public confusion, media questions, and difficulty in coordinating regional planning. A survey taken before a workshop helped organizers shape facilitated discussions to help participants understand state-of-the-practice inundation-mapping methods, define local challenges, and ultimately agree on a consistent set of methods and criteria. To learn more about the process and outcomes, visit Developing Consistent Methods for Mapping Sea Level Rise in Southeast Florida.

Why This Worked

The survey helped narrow workshop topics and highlighted the practitioners’ needs, as well as their data and knowledge gaps. The workshop provided a venue that enabled group members to discuss their needs and ideas and to make a decision on how to proceed with inundation mapping for the region. The workshop also provided a facilitated process that helped keep the group on target, allowing them to make effective decisions.