Happy new year!
2020 is drawing to a close. I am amazed as I reflect on all that has changed in these 12 months.
We kicked off 2020 in January by hosting a public groundbreaking party for the westside trail construction and almost a year later, in December, we are following all the Covid restrictions while celebrating a virtual ribbon cutting for that same completed trail. What a way to bookend this strange year.
The westside trail is open and you can play with us this week!
20 years of citizen advocacy finally came to fruition with the opening of the westside trail this month. If you’ve been on the trail you have probably noticed all the many wonderful features. Wide, flat, level, it is the quickest way to cross the westside of town. Crosswalks and crossbikes make street crossings easy. At busy streets, pushbuttons turn on warning lights for cars to encourage them to yield. There are always friendly people out just enjoying the space or using it to run their errands as many businesses are right along the trail.
Between December 26 and January 3 there will be another dimension to enjoying the trail. Friends of the Rail & Trail are sponsoring a scavenger hunt along the 1.2 miles. Bring your whole family for some socially distant fun. Find the clue cards posted on the fence, answer the trivia questions, post on social media, and enter to win a prize.
The completion of the westside trail is one of our important accomplishments this year. But it’s not the only one. Despite the many challenges we faced this year, we have adapted to the times and moved ahead.
When Covid hit in March we were ready with a strong tech team who helped us move seamlessly to shared documents and remote meetings so our education and advocacy could continue without pause.
Good thing too, because 2020 has been the year of the Regional Transportation Commission’s (RTC) Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis (TCAA). This comprehensive study comparing high capacity public transit options for the rail corridor has included many opportunities for public input and FORT has been present every step of the way to make sure our voice for passenger rail service is heard. A matter of fact, throughout the TCAA, public comment has been running between 80-90% in favor of passenger rail service! That’s YOU. That’s the emails you’ve sent. That’s the surveys you’ve taken. That’s your comments at RTC meetings.
In June we launched our Coast Connect vision and we’ve leveraged it to increase engagement. Many organizations, businesses and individuals have endorsed the vision already. If you haven’t endorsed yet, it’s easy to do. We launched 2 new websites, new social media channels, improved our newsletter and expanded our capacity to connect to our supporters. The Coast Connect vision has been a powerful tool for public outreach bringing hundreds of new people to Friends of the Rail and Trail.
Of course all this growth costs money and this year we had a successful fundraising year despite all the challenges. Our donors realized that in times of crisis, yes one must deal with the immediate needs, but one must also take advantage of the moment to create a better future. This positive visionary leadership is what Friends of the Rail and Trail provides and we are honored that so many of you have chosen to be part of it.
This year we launched our first campaign for monthly donors called the Coast Connect Club,. Many of you stepped up, joined the club and became monthly donors. That regular income is helping us plan for even more growth in 2021!
Whether it’s a one time donation, or a monthly commitment, we invite each of you to make a contribution to our successes yet to come in 2021.
Action Alert for Jan 14
After months of study and public input, the RTC staff are recommending that electric passenger rail be the Locally Preferred Alternative for transit on the corridor. Now we need the commissioners to affirm that in 2021.
There will be a public hearing held remotely on January 14 to hear the public’s response to this recommendation. Attending a public hearing remotely is not hard, but to participate meaningfully requires some special instructions. So if you’d like to stand up and be counted at the RTC meeting, please let us know. We’ll contact you closer to the 14th with directions to help you have an easy and satisfying remote RTC experience. It's your chance to tell your representatives on the RTC that you want a complete transportation system including passenger rail service.
I think we are all hoping that 2021 will be a better year. You can be part of creating that better year by volunteering with Friends of the Rail and Trail. Do you like Social Media? Video? Photography? Writing? Researching? Talking to others? Data bases? Web design? We have so many ways you can help – most from the socially distant safety of your own home. Visit our Take Action page at CoastConnect.org to volunteer. One of us will call you and we’ll find just the right way to connect you with our fun group of citizen activists.
See you on the trail in a happy 2021!
Friends of the Rail & Trail