Community Planning

IS YOUR COMMUNITY LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE IN THE PATH OF TOTALITY? 

YOU NEED TO START PLANNING.  NOW.  

I help communities within the path of totality identify a plan to guide preparations for a total solar eclipse.

The eclipse will happen regardless of any planning. However, if your community lies within the path of totality, your community IS going to be in the spotlight.

Delayed or little planning will give the impression of disorganization and lack of engagement.  Such negative PR can impact tourism for years.

However, having a clear eclipse planning strategy puts you in control of the narrative, and can be used to build up positive PR for your region.  The earlier you start, the more you benefit.

I can help!

A great starting point is my free WHITE PAPER ON COMMUNITY ECLIPSE PLANNING—see resources section below.  

Other ways I contribute to community eclipse planning:

  • Membership of national planning groups, e.g. Member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force, which is guiding efforts for the eclipses of 2023 and 2024
  • Advisor to other state and local eclipse planning groups
  • Presentations to a wide variety of organizations, businesses, communities
  • Zoom consultations, workshops and masterclasses
  • Detailed eclipse strategy reports
  • In-community visits
  • Media engagement
Community and stakeholder events in Grand Island, Nebraska, in preparation for the 2017 total solar eclipse.  (Credit:  Dan Glomski)
Kate in 2015 taking part in a two-year countdown planning workshop in Portland, Oregon, planning for the total solar eclipse of 2017.  (credit:  AAS)

THE CHALLENGES OF PREPARING A COMMUNITY

FOR A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE 

Being an eclipse coordinator is a daunting task—there are many unknowns and unique challenges that differ from planning other major community events. You may find yourself facing with the following uncertainties:

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

Where do you get the information that is needed to start with planning?  

LACK OF EXPERIENCE 

How do you prepare for something you have never seen or experienced? 

LACK OF CONFIDENCE

Who can I check with that this is OK?  Am I the right person for this? 

LACK OF CERTAINTY

How do you lead a team of others when there are so many unknowns?  

EVIDENCE-BASED GUIDANCE IS AVAILABLE

WHITE PAPER ON COMMUNITY ECLIPSE PLANNING

I have been community eclipse planning for a decade, and continue to research and distill learnings and lessons from previous eclipses to help future efforts.  This guidance is written in a White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning, which is now in its second edition.

I offer these White Papers as a free educational tool to facilitate community eclipse planning.  Downloads will be free, without needing to leave any details, and you are welcome to share widely. 

The first edition (2015) was informed by planning insights and experiences from 2012 in Australia and 2015 in the Faroe Islands. The need for written guidance was pressing—over a thousand communities across the US found themselves “in the dark” preparing for the 2017 total solar eclipse, something that hadn’t happened in the US since 1979.  

The second edition (2022) is more detailed and supplemented with material from a needs analysis of eclipse planners across the 2017 path of totality, along with in-depth interviews with over 30 eclipse coordinators completed pre-and post-eclipse. 

Both editions will be available to download in the Resource section below.

Second Edition – now ready for free download!

ECLIPSE PLANNING STRATEGY SUPPORT VIA ZOOM 

Effective eclipse planning will ensure your community is ready to host the vast crowds that will congregate along the path of totality. But strategic planning will allow your community to shine within the path.

You may find it useful to arrange support to tailor the White Paper guidance to your community.  This can be done in a number of ways:

  • a one-off consultation session to give verbal feedback
  • a more detailed written eclipse planning strategy with clear recommendations that can then be followed
  • attending a Zoom masterclass with a maximum of 6 eclipse coordinators to focus on a specific topic.

 

I am no longer able to offer my free half-hour Zoom consultation sessions due to overwhelming demand.

Whatever your needs are, much can be completed by Zoom. Get in touch if you are looking for something additional to the guidance in the White Paper.

Ready to take part via Zoom for the headline event in the town of Jackson, Wyoming  for their “Teton Eclipse:  A Total Community Event.”  (c) 2017 Dr. Kate Russo

IN-COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR STAKEHOLDER, COMMUNITY AND MEDIA ENGAGEMENT 

Sometimes you will find it beneficial to arrange for in-community speakers and workshop facilitators to help with eclipse preparations, and these are key moments to generate media.

I LOVE coming to communities to help whip up excitement related to the eclipse.  Not only can I help engage your community, but I can also facilitate stakeholder workshops to work on your community planning strategy, help with event planning, site selection, and other practical tasks.

One of the biggest advantages of in-community visits is the media that can be generated.  For example, in 2017 my community visit to Ravenna in Nebraska generated numerous news articles, with one story alone generating over 3 million views.  Make sure to view my MEDIA section for many examples.  I am proactive with the media, and will seek out many opportunities for your community to shine.

Travel during a pandemic is not as easy as it once was.  However, if you have something in mind then get in touch to discuss options and solutions.

Delivering a stakeholder workshop in Goshen County, Wyoming, while being tailed by ABC New/Nightline.  (c) 2017 Dr. Kate Russo

DIRECT EXPERIENCES FROM PAST PLANNING

You may be interested to learn about what I was up to personally in previous eclipses where I played a leadership role in community eclipse planning.

The 2012 path of totality when through my home region.  Here is a summary of how I was involved in these preparations.

I took what I learned from 2012 and was able to take the lead as Eclipse Coordinator, where the 2015 path of totality went through the Faroe Islands.  Here is a summary of my role, and what was undertaken in helping this wonderful community prepare for totality.

Then after launching the first edition of the White Paper, I was helping over 30 communities across the US prepare for the 2017 total solar eclipse. From a personal perspective, my hands were incredibly tied—you can read my personal challenges of trying to get my US visa to help with planning efforts that only came through after the eclipse. Despite that, I provided considerable online and in-community support to numerous communities across the path, and used the opportunity to further develop White Paper guidance.

I was involved with community eclipse preparations for Ravenna and Grand Island in Nebraska.  During a 10 day stay in 2017, a range of community and stakeholder engagement activities generated significant media interest.  (c) 2017 Dr. Kate Russo

SHARING THE EXCITEMENT AND EXPERIENCE OF TOTALITY

If you are preparing your community for a total solar eclipse, it often falls to you to try to convince others it will be a big deal.  You will need to know the facts and figures about the eclipse, but also convey WHY people will be coming.  This is very challenging when you have never experienced totality yourself.

Describing the experience of totality is challenging even for people who have experienced it!  I have found over the years that personal storytelling and sharing the eclipse experience is what engages people, so they understand why they have to get into the path of totality.

One of my most popular presentations is on the experience of totality, and why it is absolutely worth getting into the path of totality to experience it.  This presentation can be given live online to a wide variety of audiences.

My third book was written specifically with eclipse coordinators in mind, to allow them to share the totality experience with others using stories of ordinary people who go on to experience their first total solar eclipse.  It describes how they prepared, their expectations, their eclipse experience and the impact that it had, followed by them trying to make sense of it all.  You may find it useful to download a copy as you start planning so you can help to describe it to others.

DOWNLOAD ECLIPSE PLANNING RESOURCES

Want to join a register of eclipse coordinators? 

I am collating a register of eclipse coordinators across the path of totality (and path of annularity) of any future eclipse that can be used for sharing community planning resources, events, research surveys, and media opportunities.  Leave your details to join the register.  

    This 2017 VICE video of community eclipse planning in the tiny town of Ravenna, Nebraska (population 1,300) generated over 3 million views.This could be your community in 2024.

    WHITE PAPER FEEDBACK

    “Your White Paper on planning events was excellent.  Good information and great resources.”     

    “Your guidance paper has proven extremely valuable for our planning.”

    “There are very few articles or references such as yours.  On behalf of all Eclipse Planners out there I say thank you!”

    “Your White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning has become a very useful document in leading us towards a well-planned event.”

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