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 and work together to make the event a success. This challenge quickly turned itself into an opportunity for many of the partners. They saw how many opportunities lay ahead of them when the 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 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 are aware of the environmental cleanup activities at the Arsenal. They do not, however, remember many specifics about the remediation efforts.
- Based on this survey, the RVO identified a need to not only 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 Community Planning Committee and the actual event were established in July, 1998.
- At the first meeting with the Community Planning Committee, 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 committees’ suggestions and implemented them into the event planning process for Meet Montbello 2000.
- The RVO spent a great deal of time familiarizing itself with the Montbello area, specifically with the businesses and community organizations in the area who may be willing to offer support or to make donations to the event.
- The following planning goals were set: increase interest among the community in learning more about the environmental cleanup of the Arsenal; create an opportunity to learn more about resources 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 to gain future support for Arsenal related events.
- The objectives for the overall event were the following: coordinate a one-day community event for the Remediation Venture Office (comprised of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army and Shell Oil Company) that achieves the following:
- Generate at least 2,000 visitors from the Montbello community surrounding the Arsenal.
- Initiate 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, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteers, the Meet Montbello Community Planning Committee and other Arsenal related groups and coalitions.
- Educate 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.
- Provide an opportunity to learn more about resources that are available to the Montbello community, both within the community and the Denver Metro area through representation at the event.
To accomplish the set objectives and to accurately communicate with the audiences, the following strategic approach was developed: A strategic plan was developed to effectively communicate with the Community Planning Committee, the event participants, the general public, elected official and influentials, the invited guests and the media using public relations practice areas such as community relations, government relations and media relations.
Promotion: This was the third 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 and used consistently to promote the event.
Arsenal representatives and the Community Planning Committee created and distributed flyers (printed in both English and Spanish, considering the diversity of Montbello) to residents, businesses, recreation centers, libraries and churches in Montbello.
A media relations strategy was developed for use with the local media, as well as the major Denver media outlets.
Banners and posters were created for placement at major intersections in Montbello and in businesses and community centers.
Event information was included in RMA’s Community Report (Milestones), a newsletter for visitors and the RMA mailing list.
Documents were prepared for Inside RMA, the Arsenal’s internal intranet site, to promote the event and to solicit employee aid.
The attendance of Popeye Jones, from the Denver Nuggets Basketball Team and mascot Rocky was promoted in pre-event media.
Many rentals were necessary for this event including park permits, tents, sound system, generators, port-o-lets and wash stations.
A planning committee was formed of Montbello residents, who participated in the 1998 and 1999 Meet Montbello events, and of residents that had expressed an interest in participating in the 2000 event.
Meetings were held every other week from April through June and every week in July.
Each committee member volunteered to manage different aspects of the event (e.g. exhibitors, games, entertainment, etc.)
Members of the RVO oversaw, managed, assisted and provided all committee members with each of their projects.
The RVO empowered community volunteers in order to establish community ownership of the event and to prepare committee members for the eventual transition of the entire event to the community.
The RVO and the Community Planning Committee worked together to solicit sponsors for the event. Businesses who made substantial donations were named as sponsors of the event - Shell Oil Company, Wells Fargo Bank, Guaranty Bank, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Society, Norwest Banks and Frontier Airlines. Many other companies donated in-kind items such as crackers, soda, water, barbecue grills, raffle prizes and emergency services.
Sponsors and partners were recognized in most of the promotional materials, as well as on the signage at the event.
The RVO and the Community Planning Committee enlisted the aid of Arsenal employees as well as their friends, family members and neighbors to assist with preparation and execution activities. All volunteers received letters of appreciation after the event.
Entertainment, activities and displays:
Several local church choirs, school groups and cultural performers were identified by the RVO and the Community Planning Committee and invited to perform at the event. There were also many games set up for children.
Nearly forty environmental, wildlife, community and business organizations provided interactive activities and information to event attendees. Exhibitors included the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Remediation Venture Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a series of activities and exhibits, American Cancer Society, Civil Air Patrol, Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Tri-County Health Department, DARE, Denver Citizen’s Police Academy, Denver Victim’s Assistance, Environmental Protection Agency, neighborhood and various church groups.
Several guests were invited to the event including city, state and federal elected officials and congressionals, local city council members and community influentials. Denver City Councilwoman Happy Haynes was a partner and supporter of the event.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
Increase public awareness of the Army:
Meet Montbello attracted over 2,000 Montbello community members. As primary organizer, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal’s booths displayed information on the history of the Arsenal and on current and future cleanup projects. Most attendees visited the booths and learned about the site and its future. In turn, public awareness of the Army and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal increased.
Foster good relations:
Meet Montbello 2000 was the most successful event yet. Community members are now more knowledgeable about the Arsenal and are a closer-knit community. One of Meet Montbello’s goals was to bring community members together and promote the diversity of this unique area. Montbello residents met more of their neighbors and saw the opportunities available to them.
Patriotism means not only having pride in your country, but also having pride in your community and neighborhood. Meet Montbello promotes unity and taking pride in what makes 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 Army’s respected reputation:
Reaching out to the Montbello community helped to maintain and enhance the reputation of the Army. The Army has shown that they care about their neighbors; they want to see citizens of communities like Montbello unite to celebrate their community.
Support recruiting efforts:
While there were no active recruiting efforts undertaken at Meet Montbello, citizens were able to see the types of efforts they can be part of if they join the Army. Representatives explained not only the cleanup and transition of the Arsenal to a National Wildlife Refuge, but also answered questions about their careers with the Army and their current duties.
In recognition of the terrific efforts of the planning committee members, certificates of appreciation were given to each member.