Regional Cooperation

Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT)

The Greater Pittsburgh Area, Pennsylvania 
Population (estimated): 680,000 
Contact: Kathy Risko, Associate Director of CONNECT, (412) 624-7530, Risko@pitt.edu  

The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Metropolitan Studies initiated and led the development of the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), an organization that promotes collaboration between the City of Pittsburgh and the 37 municipalities that comprise the urban core. Established in 2008, the goals are:

  • To coordinate activities of the city and the surrounding municipalities;
  • To advocate for the interests of the area residents;
  • To develop ways the municipalities can work together to deliver public services and
  • To maintain a forum for deliberation among participants.

For the past three years, a CONNECT Congress has taken place. Representatives from communities have approved resolutions to guide the organization's focus. Examples include emergency medical services funding, energy efficiency, public transportation, and water and sewer infrastructure and an inter-municipal trunk line. 

CONNECT has demonstrated that communities find it mutually beneficial to cooperate on projects in order to reduce service duplication, to have a forum for collaboration and to unify the policy agenda of the area.

Community Stewards Initiative

Puget Sound Region, Washington 
Population (estimated): 3,600,000 
Contact: Jeff Aken, Cascade Agenda Cities Project Manager (206) 905-6928,jeffa@cascadeland.org

In 2009, the Community Stewards Initiative was launched. The purpose of Community Stewards is to lead networks of active citizens in the Puget Sound Region in the development of land use processes in ways that help save the region's historical and natural character. 

The program developers are the Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC), one of Washington's largest land conservation organizations, in cooperation with The Cascade Agenda Cities, a coalition of local public and educational organizations, businesses and individuals. Through these organizations, Community Stewards are provided an organizational structure and communication tools to support project development, including online forums, technical staff, support and training. CLC also works with Community Stewards to support legislation and projects that match the goals of the Cascade Agenda. The Washington Women's Foundation awarded the program an $87,500 grant to fund programs and projects. 

The Community Stewards are at work in several communities. In 2009, Citizens in Tacoma participated in a local land use planning process and developed campaigns to improve their city's livability and environment. In that same year, Issaquah citizens met to discuss how to organize to improve the community. Citizens identified local issues and selected people to coordinate solutions. 

In Tukwila, residents developed campaign strategies to help St. Thomas Parish start a new community garden. The garden provides food for refugee families from Burma and Bhutan. It also provides food for a local church's food bank. 

By partnering with local organizations, the residents of Edmonds and Shoreline convened to learn about complete streets, a program that promotes non-motorized transportation.