The primary purpose of this event is to provide the Montbello community with the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Arsenal and to learn more about current and future cleanup projects at the Arsenal. Meet Montbello is also a resource to foster community unity and to inform Montbello residents about the various programs and organizations that are available in their community.
Meet Montbello is a family-oriented, community-focused picnic with community exhibitors, free food and beverages, local entertainment and games for children. Over the past four years, the RVO has worked closely with the Meet Montbello Planning Committee towards transitioning the planning and implementation of the event to the community of Montbello.
CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY
Meet Montbello is an exciting opportunity for both the Arsenal and the Montbello community. Naturally, some challenges existed since the various organizations, which had rarely collaborated on any projects before, needed to come together to make the event a success. This challenge quickly turned itself into an opportunity for the partnering organizations. They outlined possibilities that lay ahead of them if an entire community would pool its resources for a unified goal.
The cooperation and partnership that exists between the RVO and the various community groups has guaranteed that Meet Montbello is successful year after year, and that the eventual transition of the event to the community of Montbello will be smooth and gratifying for all involved.
RESEARCH, PLANNING & OBJECTIVES
In order to evaluate the RVO’s community outreach efforts, a telephone survey was conducted in 2000 with 400 residents living in three areas near the Arsenal – Commerce City, Montbello and Brighton/Henderson. The survey revealed the following:
- Top-of-mind concern about environmental issues, such as the environment (5 %), pollution (4%) and the Arsenal itself (1%) were virtually non-existent.
- More than one-third of Arsenal neighbors (40%) said they were aware of the environmental cleanup activities at the Arsenal. They did not, however, remember many specifics about the remediation efforts.
Based on this survey, the RVO identified a need not only to communicate the Arsenal’s remediation projects and vision for the future, but also to forge strong relationships and support for the remediation of the Arsenal and its eventual transition into a premier national wildlife refuge. In order to create such relationships with the Montbello community, the Meet Montbello Planning Committee and the actual event were established in July 1998.
The first meeting with the Meet Montbello Planning Committee in preparation for the 2001 event was held in March 2001. The RVO facilitated a discussion with the committee to identify the positive aspects of previous Meet Montbello events and areas of the event that could be improved. The RVO captured the committee’s suggestions and implemented them into the event planning process for Meet Montbello 2001.
The RVO spent a great deal of time familiarizing itself with the Montbello area, specifically the businesses and community organizations in the area that may be willing to offer support or make donations to the event, be interested in being an exhibitor at the event or be interested in being part of the entertainment schedule.
The following goals were outlined for the event:
- Increase interest among the community to learn more about the environmental cleanup of the Arsenal;
- Create an opportunity to learn more about resources that are available to the Montbello community, both within the community and within the Denver Metro area; and,
- Establish and/or solidify partnerships with Montbello community organizations, community members, regulatory agencies and the Colorado media in order to gain future support for Arsenal-related activities.
The objectives of the event were to coordinate a one-day community event for the Remediation Venture Office (comprised of the U.S. Army, Shell Oil Company and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) that achieves the following:
- Generates at least 2,500 visitors from the Montbello community surrounding the Arsenal;
- Initiates relationships with Montbello community organizations, community leaders and community members to gain future support and participation for Arsenal-related activities such as the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteers, the Meet Montbello Planning Committee and other Arsenal-related groups and coalitions; and,
- Educates the Montbello community on the many remediation projects, environmental education programs and volunteer opportunities that exist by using event exhibits and activities and adding interested members to the Arsenal mailing list.
- Community members were invited to attend each planning committee meeting;
- Information was posted in the community newspaper;
- Informational flyers and posters were left at local businesses; and,
- Community groups, organizations and businesses were invited to be exhibitors.
News releases and fact sheets were developed about the event and distributed to the media.
Local elected officials were invited to attend the event and were provided the opportunity to speak at Meet Montbello.
Promotion: This was the fourth year the Arsenal coordinated an event for the Montbello community. To generate continued excitement for the event, while building on the existing awareness of the Arsenal, a logo was created the second year of the event and has been used consistently to promote the event.
Arsenal representatives and the Meet Montbello Planning Committee created flyers for distribution to residents, local businesses, recreation centers, libraries and churches in the Montbello area;
A media relations strategy was developed for use with the local media, as well as the major Denver media outlets;
Banners were created for placement at major intersections in Montbello, as well as in heavy traffic areas such as the local Safeway grocery store; and,
Information about the event was prepared for placement in the RMA’s Community Report (Milestones) and a newsletter was prepared for Inside RMA, the Arsenal’s Intranet site to promote the event and to solicit employee volunteers.
Planning Committee: The Meet Montbello Planning Committee is comprised mainly of members of the Montbello community and is facilitated by Shell and the RVO. Planning Committee members attend meetings, provide input and assist with the management of several aspects of the event. For instance, one planning committee member will head up recruiting exhibitors and another member will be responsible for organizing the games. Each year, Planning Committee members have increased their level of responsibility to aid in the transition of the event. Past Planning Committee members have included representatives from Denver City Councilwoman Happy Haynes’ office, members of Montbello United Neighbors (a Montbello neighborhood group), RAB members, employees of the local Wells Fargo Bank and other interested citizens.
Sponsorships: The RVO and the Meet Montbello Planning Committee worked together to solicit sponsors for the event. Businesses who made substantial donations were named as sponsors of the event. These were businesses such as Shell Oil Company, Wells Fargo Bank, Samsonite, Safeway, Foster Wheeler Environment Corp., Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Society and Frontier Airlines. Many other companies donated in-kind items such as hamburgers, chips, crackers, soda, water, barbecue grills, raffle prizes and emergency services. Their help was extremely valuable in making this event successful.
Sponsors and partners were recognized in most of the promotional materials, as well as on the signage at the event.
Volunteers: The RVO and Meet Montbello Planning Committee enlisted the aid of their friends, family members and neighbors, as well as Arsenal employees, to assist with activities such as set-up, food preparation and service and event cleanup.
Entertainment: Several local groups and cultural performers were identified by the RVO and the Meet Montbello Planning Committee and invited to perform at the event. In some cases, the performers required a fee, while others donated their time.
Influential Guests: Several influential guests were invited to Meet Montbello 2001. They included city, state and federal elected officials and congressionals, local city council members and community influentials. Denver City Councilwoman Happy Haynes, who has been involved with Meet Montbello since its conception, acted as a partner and supporter at the event.
Increase public awareness of the Arsenal: Meet Montbello attracted more than 3,000 Montbello community members. As the primary organizer of this event, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had booths that displayed information on the history of the Arsenal, as well as on the current and future clean-up projects. Most attendees visited Arsenal booths and learned about the site and its exciting future. In turn, public awareness of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was increased.
Foster good relations: Meet Montbello has grown in popularity over the years and has consistently become more successful. Meet Montbello 2001 was no exception. It was the most successful event yet. Community members are now more knowledgeable about the Arsenal and have become a closer-knit community. One of the goals of Meet Montbello was to bring community members together and promote the diversity of this unique area. Montbello residents now have a chance to meet more of their neighbors and see the wonderful opportunities that are available to them, right in their own backyards.
Inspire patriotism: Patriotism means not only having pride in your country, but having pride in your community and neighborhood as well. Meet Montbello promotes unity and pride in the characteristics that make the Montbello community what it is and what it will become. Residents of this community are proud of the changes that have taken place; they want people to see the warm and inviting community they have become. Being proud of the neighborhood you live in inspires citizens to be proud of their city, state and country.
Maintain the Arsenal’s respected reputation: Reaching out to show their support of the Montbello community has helped maintain and enhance the respected reputation of the site. The RVO has shown that they care about their neighbors and they want to see the citizens of communities like Montbello come together and celebrate.