Planning

PLANNING: FOR COMMUNITIES

 

Imagine you are tasked with having to prepare your community for the event of a lifetime – except you have no personal experience of this event, no idea what to expect or even how many will be coming. This is the reality for every community that finds themselves along the path of totality.

All communities along the path can expect a staggering number of local, national and international visitors to their region.  There will also be huge media interest in the months leading up to the eclipse, peaking on eclipse day when the eyes of the world will be watching.

In every community along the path, someone will be charged with the role of Eclipse Coordinator, bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from across the region.

Being an Eclipse Coordinator is a daunting task – there are many unknowns, and also unique challenges for eclipse planning that differ from planning other major community events. However, it is an incredibly exciting and rewarding role.

The Eclipse Coordinator is usually someone already working in a tourism or council role, who is well networked in the community who initially takes on the task as an additional role. In rural communities, this role is often left to volunteers.

Resources are often limited, but some communities are smart by bringing in a dedicated Eclipse Coordinator early on. The return on this investment is huge. The economic benefits for these regions are considerable, and the tourism potential is often unprecedented. Planning ahead ensures that your community benefits – not just on eclipse day, but for the long term.

There are many unknowns when planning for eclipses.  My White Paper can help guide the way. (c) Kieron Circuit.

THE CHALLENGES

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know.

There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.

But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

Eclipse planning is difficult when you have not seen one before.  This means leading a team of other stakeholders in a process that you have little knowledge about. You also have to convince your community to get behind you.

LACK OF EXPERIENCE 

In any one location, a total eclipse occurs once in every 375 years.  So there is never anyone with personal experience on how to prepare, and it is very rare for anyone in one community to have actually seen a total solar eclipse.

LACK OF CONFIDENCE

The Eclipse Coordinator role is one that requires strong direction and leadership, negotiation skills, determination, and putting your faith in something that you have not before experienced. It can be a daunting role.

TOO MANY HUMANS

It is difficult to predict exact numbers, and many will decide at the last minute where they will go. How do you plan for something when you have no idea whether visitor numbers will be 1,000, 10,000 or 50,000?

EVIDENCE-BASED PLANNING

I am not just an experienced eclipse chaser.  I have had experience of seeing a total solar eclipse from within my own community, and was aware of the issues involved first hand – see 2012 Eclipse Planning for more detailed information.  I have also been the Eclipse Planning Consultant for the Faroe Islands in 2015, and have undertaken further research on this process.  I have been extensively supporting communities across the path of totality in the US in 2017. I am continuing to research the process of community eclipse planning as I go along.

Other eclipse resources stress mobility and may not provide the specific guidance for what to do for your community. That is, they are coming from the Eclipse Chaser perspective.

I provide guidance on how communities prepare. I cannot give certainty to all of the unknowns. But I can highlight the process of planning, drawing from previous examples, and lessons learned from hindsight. This is from research, and also from my own personal experience.

WHITE PAPER ON COMMUNITY ECLIPSE PLANNING

 

In 2015, I launched my White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning at the American Astronomical Society Eclipse Planning Task Force meeting in Portland, Oregon.  This is the only guidance available to communities on how to prepare for a total solar eclipse and is aimed at Eclipse Coordinators. This document can be downloaded for free here and can be circulated widely.

Hundreds of communities across the path of totality have now used this resource, and have found it extremely valuable as a starting point for their community preparations.  The guidance was based upon interviews with eclipse coordinators in 2012 and 2015, and from my own personal experience of being the Eclipse Coordinator for the Faroe Islands. The following are testimonials about the White Paper:

This excellent document is now being used across the U.S. path of totality and will no doubt provide crucial information to those who are planning eclipse activities within their region. We are delighted that other communities that find themselves within the path of totality can benefit directly from our experiences.

(Guðrið Højgaard, director of Visit Faroe Islands).

I found the White Paper compelling and well organized, and reproduced it in my most recent book, Your Guide to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Kate developed it in a robust way using interviews she collected over a three-year span. Her guidance in this area is important because nobody else is making such suggestions.

(Michael Bakich, Senior Editor, Astronomy Magazine and Eclipse Coordinator in St Joseph Missouri).

CONSULTATIONS

 

I have been undertaking free web consultations for eclipse co-ordinators across the path of totality. These sessions have been valuable in identifying and developing a plan unique to each community, and have received high praise. These free sessions are now limited.

I have undertaken many events aimed to engage both stakeholders and communities in the lead up to the eclipse. I can contribute to eclipse planning meetings and deliver presentations via the use of Skype, zoom and other technologies. On the ground, I can provide much-needed support to deliver events, workshops, training, and guidance and to help with strategy. I develop content related to the eclipse and help build up excitement through extensive engagement with the community, businesses and the media.

I know how exciting it is to have a total solar eclipse happen in your region.  I also know what it is like to plan for one, what is needed, and the importance of support. I love supporting communities – the process very much draws upon my unique skills as a clinical psychologist, and my extensive skills in consulting and service development. 

Unfortunately, as I have been unable to enter the U.S. I have been very limited in how I can offer support to communities across the path of totality.  However, I have managed to do quite a bit despite these barriers.

If you are coordinating the eclipse for your community, and are looking for guidance and support, make sure to download my White Paper, and get in touch using the following form if you have any queries.  

Captain Kate at the helm on the Astor, cruising from London to Sydney. But I can also help guide you through eclipse planning for your community. Might need a different hat. (c) 2015 Kate Russo

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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