On February 24, 2014 Humming for Bees presented their Bee-Safe City Resolution for the Shorewood City Council at its working meeting. On July 28, 2014 Shorewood City Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 14-066, A Resolution Endorsing “Bee-Safe” Policies and Procedures.
Both the original resolution presented and the final resolution that was adopted can be found on www.hummingforbees.org under Resources/Getting the Word Out. Other resolutions and ordinances from around the state and country can also be found there as they are adopted.
Here are our process steps. Any group or individual that wishes to make a similar journey will learn and benefit from our experience. Here’s an outline of what we did. You can too!
HOW WE DID IT
· GETTING STARTED/BASIC AGREEMENTS/REGULAR MEETINGS
· PUBLIC OUTREACH
· GETTING A RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE CITY OF SHOREWOOD
· ISSUES/CONSIDERATIONS WHEN WORKING WITH CITY GOVERNMENT
· AN ADDITIONAL PROPOSAL/RESOLUTION TO HELP BEES FIND FOOD
· ONGOING ACTIVITIES TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT A BEE SAFE WORLD
GETTING STARTED/BASIC AGREEMENTS/REGULAR MEETINGS
1. Phoned people and invited them to a meeting on bees and pesticides.
2. People who wanted the focus on alleviating stresses facing bees and other pollinators agreed to continue meeting.
3. Set up a meeting place (in our case it was public libraries in the western suburbs – they are free and centrally located. The challenge was that libraries could only be booked by the same group once a month and only two months in advance on a first-come, first-served basis).
4. Set a consistent time (1:00-3:00pm on Sundays every other week).
5. Agreed on the following:
a. Common goals and a mission statement (see About Us on www.hummingforbees.org)
b. Having self-education and education of others as part of the goal; [educating ourselves and sharing information regarding the plight of bees by keeping up-to-date through available news articles, research papers, and documentaries (see Resources on www.hummingforbees.org)]
c. Ground rules set for running meetings;
d. One leader would be responsible for setting the agenda and running the meeting;
e. Making individual commitments as to what each person would do prior to each meeting;
f. Have meeting notes sent out to members;
g. Focus on helping one city (Shorewood, MN) to adopt a bee-protective policy that could be an impetus for other cities to follow suit; and
h. Share our information, resolution, and process with other interested individuals and/or cities who want to adopt a bee-protective policy.
As a group, we have been very public with our concern for bees and educating others. Here are strategies that have been effective for us:
1. Showed bee documentaries in our homes;
2. Showed Dr. Marla Spivak’s free, on-line TED Talk called, “Why Bees Are Disappearing” on our laptop to any and all who would watch in our home, in others’ homes, in coffee shops, at various meetings where we were invited to present;
3. Wrote Letters to the Editor to various newspapers/local newsletters;
4. Forwarded email petitions regarding bees to our own lists of friends;
5. Gave presentations at PTAs, school environmental groups, garden clubs, churches, townhome associations, neighborhood gatherings, etc.;
6. Created and shared handouts regarding the plight of bees;
7. Created a yard sign in support of bees (ours was 9x12 black lettering on bright yellow background, easily seen and read from across the street while driving in a car) that people could have by signing a pledge and considering a donation to help pay for the sign and the handouts;
8. Door knocked/canvassed neighborhoods with handouts, pledges and Bee Safe Yard signs;
9. Set up a display table with handouts, pledge, yard signs, and contact info sign-up sheet at:
a. Farmers’ Markets
b. City celebration events
c. Educational events
d. Neighborhood stores in support of helping bees
10. Started a website in order to share information on bees (www.hummingforbees.org);
11. Asked the local League of Women Voters for their support for bee-safe cities;
12. Asked concerned citizens to attend our City Council meetings that were focused on bees;
13. Invited local newspapers columnists to attend our City Council meetings regarding bees; and
14. Asked a local bookstore if we could put bee information and Bee Safe Yard signs in the store window and if we could display materials in front of the store once a week.
GETTING A RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE CITY OF SHOREWOOD
Our group was very focused on getting the City of Shorewood to adopt a resolution to become a Bee Safe City. The resolution passed. It doesn’t mean that overnight we are finished with our work. We continue to follow through on our agreements with the city and continue to educate ourselves, our citizens, and the citizens of other communities interested in helping bees. Shorewood has just begun the process of becoming bee-safe.
In Minnesota, as in all but seven other states, cities cannot legislate what pesticides to use or not use on private lands even though that usage affects members of the city. Cities can only regulate the pesticides used on city property.
Here’s what we did to get the resolution passed:
1. Set a goal and deadline to have Shorewood pass a resolution to become a Bee Safe City (on city property);
2. Called and set appointments with city staff and city officials. Often showed the free TED Talk by Dr. Spivak;
3. Made a conscious attempt to be positive and develop a cooperative relationships with all members of city hall (council and staff);
4. Developed a resolution that would be protective of bees; we had to be willing to change the language of our original resolution, without changing key parts, so that the city attorney and city administrator would be satisfied that the city would be able to fulfill the resolution agreements;
5. Developed a Powerpoint presentation that clearly explained what we wanted the city to do in order to help bees/pollinators;
6. Invited concerned citizens to attend each City Council presentation in support of our resolution;
7. In the interest of transparency and accountability, followed up each meeting with an individual thank you and summary by email to all attendees of what was talked about at the meeting;
8. Asked some of the concerned citizens who had been present at the City Council meetings to follow up with a letter or call to the mayor and City Council members or a Letter to the Editor of our local city paper;
9. Sent regular bee news and research articles to City Council members and city staff after the presentation of the resolution to make sure they had the latest, up-to-date information regarding bees and to be a gentle, but consistent ‘squeaky wheel’;
10. Presented our resolution to the city’s park commissioners and asked for their approval; and
11. After our resolution passed, we were interviewed by three local newspapers - we followed up the newspaper articles with thank you notes to the journalists.
ISSUES/CONSIDERATIONS WHEN WORKING WITH CITY GOVERNMENT
In working with city government, we realized we needed to address concerns officials would have regarding passage of our resolution and give some time to basic political considerations. We learned to be aware of the needs of the City Council and the city staff and the importance of developing the best working relationship we could with both groups.
Because of their considerations/perspective, time and budget restraints, we looked at ways we could make their job of implementing our resolution easier or money-saving while still focusing on how essential it was to act to help bees.
1. Concerns of the City Council:
a. Would it cost more money?
b. Would the small staff be asked to do more work?
c. Would children get lots of bee stings if there were more bee-favored plants in the parks? What about allergies to bees?
d. How would they educate the public about the importance of bees?
2. Concerns of city staff:
a. Would it add more work to their already full load?
b. Would they have to change their practices and learn new things?
c. Would it take more of their already stretched time?
3. In working with the Mayor and City Council, we learned that they:
a. Looked for ways to move the city forward;
b. Are the decision makers and therefore the group to address regarding the importance of protecting bees and passing a resolution;
c. Count on and listen to the city staff, yet also hold them accountable for carrying out the decisions of the City Council;
d. Were interested in knowing if our information was accurate; our resolution worthwhile and doable;
e. Wanted to know if other citizens were interested in the plight of bees;
f. Noticed the number of people showing up at City Council meetings in support of our resolution;
g. Became aware of Bee Safe Yard signs; and
h. Were open to new ideas that would benefit citizens and the city.
4. We learned that the city staff:
a. Tend to be permanent employees of the city, unlike the City Council which is elected/re-elected on a regular basis;
b. Are listened to and implement decisions of the City Council;
c. Already have a long list of things to do accomplish for the city and have limited budgets; and
d. Park Commissioners, as a separate department, needed to hear our concerns about bees and our resolution.
AN ADDITIONAL PROPOSAL/RESOLUTION TO HELP BEES FIND FOOD
To help feed bees in the suburbs where there’s a monoculture of grass and pavement, one easy thing was to encourage planting clover because it is great bee food. Clover used to be included with grass seed mixtures because it provides nitrogen to the soil (less fertilizer needed) and is draught resistant (less water needed) and is still used as a cover crop to add nutrients to the soil.
We worked hard to make it easy for the City Council to pass our resolution by agreeing to:
1. Pay for the clover seed and do the labor to begin the transition from green cement grass everywhere to the beginnings of planting sturdy flowers that bees like;
a. We purchased White Dutch Clover, planted it and got it established;
b. The plan was to then turn it over to city staff to maintain just as they would any city property area;
c. One of the three park areas, the largest set aside by the city, did not have access to a water source nearby. We needed to add a light layer of straw to cover the seed and turn it over to the city sooner than planned for watering.
2. Keep track of things the city has done to become more bee safe;
a. Check with the Public Works Director for additions; and
b. Share this information with the Communications Director and City Council to ease the process of writing the annual report sent to Shorewood residents.
We continue to develop our problem-solving skills and are dedicated to everything we can do to help local bees and pollinators.
ONGOING ACTIVITIES TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT A BEE SAFE WORLD
Our group has created the above checklist so you can learn from our mistakes and victories. Here are some things you can do to spread the word and keep updated of new developments:
1. Please “like” us on Facebook;
2. Continue to look on our website for updated information regarding bees, pollinators and pesticides (www.hummingforbees.org)
3. Contact us through our email: firstname.lastname@example.org