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McMillan Park Historic Site / VMP Grassroots Plan

Excerpted from internal company document acquired by FOIA action


  • Facilitate the passage of all necessary approvals from the Mayors Agent, Zoning

Commission and City Council;

  • Shift community dialogue and general perception to that of majority local support for

VMP plans;

  • Provide continuous political cover to local elected officials;
  • Nurture and grow deep grassroots support among a wide variety of local stakeholders

and residents by strengthening existing and creating new relationships.



  • Mobilize grassroots supporters to communicate with the above listed decision-making

bodies and the media;

  • (Re) educate residents on elements of VMP plans;
  • (Re) energize current supporters and identify/mobilize new supporters;
  • Neutralize opposition;
  • Engage and leverage the support of third-party validators (thought/faith/institution




  • Develop new messaging that bolsters and contrasts local support vs. special interest

opposition, and use multi-layered communication to disseminate messaging;

  • Create a community coalition, empowered with the tools to advocate on behalf of VMP

plans and to organize local support;

  • Create a business coalition, educated on the benefits of McMillan redevelopment and

prepared with the tools to advocate on behalf of VMP plans;

  • Leverage the support of allied organizations, thought leaders and local institutions as

third party validators in the media, with elected officials and community members and

collaborate to garner new, diverse support;

  • Use regular communication and interaction through social media to inform and engage

new audiences and provide a platform for active interaction with local media and

elected officials;

  • Maintain communication with ANCs, faith based groups/churches, minority groups, local

economic/business orgs, non-profits, allied organizations and community leaders

through regular electronic updates, occasional meetings, mailings, and/or telephone

townhalls and personalized outreach;

  • Attend and monitor local community, civic, ANC and opposition events.



In order to achieve our goal of mobilizing new supporters, reenergizing current supporters and

neutralizing/diminishing the impact of opposition, we must employ consistent messaging that:

  • Contrasts local resident, business and 3rd party support for VMP with special-interest,

non-local opposition;

  • Speaks to resident’s most pressing concerns about the redevelopment; and
  • Allows supporters to visualize the end goal of final approval and creation of this new


Key Messages:

  • The community wants redevelopment of the McMillan Sand Filtration site and supports

VMP plans;

  • Friends of McMillan has been hijacked by non-local, special interests and is spreading

misinformation to further its agenda;

  • The site was never a park. VMP plans are the only viable solution to bring a world-class,

large park to the community;

  • HPRB’s recommendation that VMP move forward in the approval process is significant

and sets the stage for plans to move through the final approval process.



We will name the local coalition and brand local support with themes that highlight these

key messages:

  • Coalition: Neighbors of McMillan (as opposed to Friends of McMillan)
  • Signs & rally call: Create McMillanPark(as opposed to SaveMcMillanPark)

We envision slightly different messaging priorities for certain stakeholder groups:


TO Neighbors of McMillan (messaging used to energize the coalition)

  • The community needs a voice that truly represents its best interests;
  • With movement through the HPRB, we now have a clear path to final approvals;
  • There is a plan of action in place and your commitment to/support of this plan will carry

this over the finish line;

  • The local community should decide what happens to McMillan, not outside special

interest groups;

  • A small minority is currently misrepresenting the views of the larger community.


FROM Neighbors of McMillan (messaging used by the coalition to energize local support,

impact public opinion and influence decision-makers)

  • People who live adjacent or very close to the site need a voice that truly represents us;
  • Our voice is currently being hijacked by people who live outside the community or

outside DC with a special interest agendas that has nothing to do with specific benefit to

this community;

  • We are invested in the community and are interested in concepts/ideas that will add

value to our community;

  • We care about the long-term viability, sustainability and benefit of and to our


  • We are not concerned with single-issue agendas – we are looking at the bigger picture;
  • We must create a park and a special place where neither currently exists.


McMillan Business Coalition

  • Economic benefit of redevelopment – new traffic, activity, shopping destination, new

residents and daily employees


Public Health

  • Benefit of walkable communities to promote healthy lifestyles


Eds & Meds

  • Creating a more desirable location for current and potential staff/students
  • Local investment and economic opportunity


See attached Communication Flow Chart for detail on communication to and from Key Audiences

and Stakeholder Groups


Neighbors of McMillan (NOM)

This coalition group will be the central focus of our organizing efforts in the community. We will

create a plan for the group and establish buy-in from a core group of leaders to lend credibility,

be the face of the coalition and establish the effort in the community. We will create a toolkit

for leaders to use and disseminate to resident supporters that will facilitate communication with

the media and decision-makers. The goal will be to have a representative sampling of people

from each community serving as leaders of the Coalition. (Fontaine team will execute all work

on behalf of the coalition – making it as easy as possible for people to engage and solicit support

from their neighbors) Coalition leaders/members will be asked to:

  • Host and/or identify hosts for house parties
  • Send neighbor-to-neighbor letters
  • Express ownership of social media presence
  • Engage in/attend earned media events
  • Disseminate “Create McMillan” signs to neighbors – identify sign locations
  • Follow-up with supporters identified through our mail and phone outreach
  • Identify people who will write letters to the editor and to decision-makers
  • Identify a group of people who can respond online to blogs and media
  • Attend events where there will be opportunity for intercept with Council Members
  • Attend community and civic meetings and display support for VMP plans.


McMillan Business Coalition

We will mail an introduction letter to business owners, sharing our business fact sheet and

inviting them to attend an introductory/educational meeting to update on the project. Our goal

will be to create the McMillan Business Coalition, comprised of local businesses who will post

signs, disseminate information to customers and communicate as a group with the local media,

City Council and decision-makers. We will encourage them to attend hearings and testify as well.

See attached for listing of local businesses with whom we plan to communicate.


Current supportive businesses include:

Need information


Third Party Validators

We will work to nurture current relationships and leverage the support of allied organizations,

advocacy groups and local institutions to communicate with and influence their memberships,

the larger community, the media, City Council and decision-making bodies. Recognizing that

different groups will have varying levels of availability, comfort and/or desire to advocate, we

will ask organizations/though-leaders to:

  • Attend community meetings and house parties to speak on our behalf
  • Attend City Council or community events for elected intercepts
  • Directly lobby Council
  • Communicate with their listserves about the issue and upcoming events – encouraging

support and involvement

  • Lend their name to our communication
  • Author Op Eds and LTEs in local media
  • Attend hearings and testify
  • Send letters to Council and decision-making bodies and encourage their

members/organizations to do the same

  • Be surrogates in the media and respond to local press


Third Party Validator Groups Include:

Smart Growth

  • Coalition for Smarter Growth – Cheryl Cort and Alex Posorske
  • American Planning Association – Jeff Soule
  • Smart Growth America (National, with a local presense)
  • Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance (National, with a local presence)
  • Urban Land Institute – Washington District Council
  • NCB Capitol Impact


Public Health Organizations

  • American Public Health Association (APHA) – local chapter
  • National Medical Assn (African American National Physicians Organization – DC



Education Institutions

  • TrinityUniversity
  • HowardUniversity


Medical Facilities

  • HowardUniversityHospital
  • MedStarWashingtonHospitalCenter
  • Children’s NationalMedicalCenter
  • Public Health Institute


Realtors & Realtor Organizations

Local Business Groups

  • Bloomingdale Small Business Assn
  • Old 4th Ward Business Assn (Edgewood)


ANCs & Community Associations

Understanding that 1) Tania has solid relationships with group leaders/ANCs and 2) that the

community association are at varying degrees of support or opposition to our plans, we will

work to keep them informed and educated and to leverage the support of those who have

publicly announced approval of VMP plans. We will attempt to make presentations at all

upcoming monthly meetings and communicate frequently with their blogs. Members of NOM

will be encouraged to attend their community meetings – express their support, encourage

group support and participation in NOM activities.


Groups Include:

Bloomingdale Civic Assn.

Le Droit Park Civic Assn.

Bates Area Civic Assn.

Eckington Civic Assn.

Stronghold Civic Assn.

Edgewood Civic Assn.




Larger Community

Our primary goals with the larger community are to:

  • Provide education on aspects of the VMP plan, community benefit and specifically

McMillan “park”;

  • Identify new supporters to filter into NOM and communicate with elected, media and

decision-makers, respond to online media and blogs;

  • Create the overall impression of local community support.

We use the following tactics:

  • Education, tear-off response card mailing to all residents
  • Education/ID phone call
  • Personalized phone follow-up with newly identified supporters by staff and NOM
  • Occasional cultivation events and meetings
  • Passive social media communication from both VMP and NOM to include

o Regular Facebook/Twitter postings

o Use Facebook as primary online portal for NOM

  • Two-way active social media portals to include:

o Vine, Instagram, Pinterest & YouTube



We will develop and disseminate:

  • General fact-sheet
  • Business fact sheet
  • Education, tear-off mailer
  • House party invites