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Kitsap pushes public participation

Kitsap County is sponsoring an all-day workshop designed to educate the public about how to create sustainable communities, with the ultimate purpose of getting people more involved in the government process.

“This is all about people having a say in the decisions that are made for them,” said South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. “We will talk about different ways for people to engage with their government. Sometimes people come in with new ideas that are just as doable and practical as what we are considering.”

The workshop will be conducted by Dr. Wendy Sarkissian, who has written a book called “Kitchen Table Sustainability.” Garrido said that Sarkissian is an expert in the field, and that the event “is an exciting opportunity for us, to have someone of her caliber come in and talk to us about public participation.”

“All three Kitsap commissioners support increasing public involvement, through advisory groups and other means,” Garrido said. “If we are going to involve people we need to open the door in a lot of different ways. And it will help us to maintain the quality of life we have here for future generations.”

Garrido has a previous professional relationship with Sarkassian, and was able to set up the event in coordination with other seminars (Sarkassian is stopping in Kitsap on her way from Vancouver to San Francisco).

The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 13 in the County Commissioners’ chambers, in Port Orchard. Having it on-site will save the county money, and Sarkassian is negotiating her fee with Garrido.

Even as this cost is as yet undetermined, Garrido said that the county will at least break even with the event. On Monday afternoon 56 people had already signed up, with an admission fee of $65 each. The county may only collect half of the projected $3,640, as about half of those registering are county employees.

Garrido said she expected Sarkassian’s fee to be around $1,000.

In addition to the public event, Garrido has also scheduled a meeting on Saturday morning designed for department heads and elected officials who want to learn some of Sarkassian’s techniques.

The topics scheduled for discussion include how to depend on locally grown foods and what types of new industry the county can expect to attract.

Registration cost is now $75, with limited scholarships for Kitsap County employees. Lunch is included. Registration forms are available here.

For more information contact Rhiannon Fernandez, (360) 337-7097 or rfernand@co.kitsap.wa.us.

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