Institute for Community Inclusion

Episode 4: Transit 4 All. Interview with Angel Bond, Program Manager, Mobility for All.

March 30, 2021 Institute for Community Inclusion Season 1 Episode 4
Institute for Community Inclusion
Episode 4: Transit 4 All. Interview with Angel Bond, Program Manager, Mobility for All.
Chapters
Institute for Community Inclusion
Episode 4: Transit 4 All. Interview with Angel Bond, Program Manager, Mobility for All.
Mar 30, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
Institute for Community Inclusion

Episode 4 of the Transit Planning 4 All Podcast Series features guest speaker Angel Bond, a program manager for Mobility for All in Boulder County, Colorado. The mission of the program is to promote affordable multimodal transportation options and to raise awareness that transportation is a basic social and economic need. Listen as Angel shares her story of empowering Boulder County residents and working with individuals with disabilities and older adults to advocate and plan for inclusive transit options within their communities.

The Transit Planning 4 All Podcast Series examines what we know about today’s most urgent inclusive transit planning challenges and how we can make progress in addressing them. In a series of conversations, transportation planners and advocates share lessons learned in their journey towards inclusive transportation planning. Transit Planning 4 All is an inclusive and coordinated transportation-planning project that has funded a series of pilot projects across the nation, each seeking to increase inclusion in transportation planning and services for people with disabilities and older adults. The project is a partnership of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, and DJB Evaluation Consulting Group. The project is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living.

Show Notes Transcript

Episode 4 of the Transit Planning 4 All Podcast Series features guest speaker Angel Bond, a program manager for Mobility for All in Boulder County, Colorado. The mission of the program is to promote affordable multimodal transportation options and to raise awareness that transportation is a basic social and economic need. Listen as Angel shares her story of empowering Boulder County residents and working with individuals with disabilities and older adults to advocate and plan for inclusive transit options within their communities.

The Transit Planning 4 All Podcast Series examines what we know about today’s most urgent inclusive transit planning challenges and how we can make progress in addressing them. In a series of conversations, transportation planners and advocates share lessons learned in their journey towards inclusive transportation planning. Transit Planning 4 All is an inclusive and coordinated transportation-planning project that has funded a series of pilot projects across the nation, each seeking to increase inclusion in transportation planning and services for people with disabilities and older adults. The project is a partnership of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, and DJB Evaluation Consulting Group. The project is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living.

MUSIC PLAYING] DAVID HOFF: Welcome to the Transit Planning 4 All podcast series. This is David Hoff speaking, and I am co-hosting today's podcast along with my colleague, DeBrittany Mitchell from the Institute for Community Inclusion. In this series of conversations we invite transportation planners and advocates to share lessons learned in their journey towards inclusive transportation planning. 

Inclusive transportation planning actively involves older adults and people with disabilities. And these efforts lead to the development of community and public transportation programs that effectively meet the needs of the people for whom they are designed to serve. 

Today's featured speaker is Angel Bond, a program manager for Mobility for All in Boulder County, Colorado. The mission of the program is to promote affordable, multi-modal transportation options and to raise awareness that transportation is a basic social and economic need. 

Listen as Angel shares her story of empowering Boulder County residents and working with individuals with disabilities and older adults to advocate and plan for inclusive transit options within their communities. 

DEBRITTANY MITCHELL: Angel, can you tell us about your background and how you got involved in the field of inclusive transit planning? 

ANGEL BOND: Yeah, definitely. So I have an unconventional background. I used to be in the army, and I worked as a diplomat doing arms control. And after I got out of the army, I went back to school. I went to UC Berkeley to study anthropology. So I was always really interested in culture and how people navigate culture and then place in space. 

So it was not necessarily ever expected that I would go into transportation planning, but I just kind of found it based on my experience traveling with the army. And I have been to so many wonderful places. It just kind of left me wondering why we don't have certain things in different locations around the US. 

And so, transit was obviously like one that was much more prevalent in Europe and in the former Soviet Union where I traveled quite a bit. And I just kind of started digging into that from a community perspective. Like how culture and-- yeah, basically just how culture dictates how we travel around our community.And then, when I went to grad school, I was studying public administration. And I just really got into planning in general like land use planning and how that impacts how people have access to transportation. 

So, I would say that it was really kind of from a selfish standpoint. Because I really wanted to live someplace that had really great transit service and just kind of addressing all of the challenges and all the gaps that we have in a lot of American cities. 

So, I ended up doing my master's capstone on demand para-transit with Envida, which is a nonprofit in Colorado Springs. And during that time I was actually-- let me back up a little bit. So I ended up getting a fellowship for veterans that was called Mission Continues, and I was able to select a place that I could volunteer. And the Mission Continues would pay me a stipend. 

And I volunteered with our local transit agency in Colorado Springs, which was Mountain Metro Transit, and I helped them with their triennial review. And then through that process I found out about mobility management And they had actually encouraged me to apply for the mobility management position that was at our metropolitan planning organization. 

And I just kind of fell in love with it. Because it really was like all three of my passions when it comes to career, which is equity, policy, and coordination. So, I think that those three aspects of what I do really attracted me to it. And since so few people were focusing on transportation equity through collaboration and through policy, I just kind of found a niche for it. 

DEBRITTANY MITCHELL: Really, really interesting background. I mean a mix between public administration and anthropology. And your experiences with mobility management just seems like it all prepared you for inclusive transit initiatives. Can you tell us a little bit more specifically about a specific inclusive transit planning project that you've worked on? 

ANGEL BOND: Yeah, so the most recent example that I can give you is now that I work for Boulder County, we were updating our transportation master plan. And this was actually the project that Community Transportation Association of America helped fund for Boulder County. 

And we were able to expand our public engagement process to specifically target older adults and people with disabilities to update our increase accessibility chapter of our transportation master plan. And it was really a great process. We were able to hold community conversations throughout the county. 

We had a really engaged steering committee that just really enjoyed the process and enjoyed being involved in the process. And I think that we were able to focus a little bit more on Latino, Latinx engagement due to the funding that we were awarded for that inclusive planning project. 

And so, we really learned a lot about the disconnects that the Latinx communities within Boulder County were feeling and just how disconnected from resources they felt. So, it was really a wonderful experience to be able to connect with people who haven't necessarily felt connected to the government, the county government, or transportation providers. 

And additionally, we were able to connect with mountain communities within Boulder County. So Boulder County has some really great transit served communities such as the city of Boulder. But there are definitely areas of Boulder County that don't have hardly any transportation access. 

So really, just being able to see the spectrum of transportation access throughout the county was really enlightening. And it was really a wonderful experience. 

DEBRITTANY MITCHELL: Thank you, Angel. It's really interesting to hear that you all were able to have a number of community conversations that you brought people together to talk about these issues. Can you talk about how you were able to encourage people to come to these conversations? 

ANGEL BOND: Yeah, it's challenging. I think that moving away from what we've been doing for public engagement, which is basically just check the box. I feel like a lot of government agencies basically, they post the meeting information and set locations. And they basically do ADA or Title-VI programming just to say that they're doing it, it seems. 

It's more of a compliance issue versus really trying to encourage and enable people to participate. So, it's challenging, for sure. One of the ladies that we had connected with Angela, she had mentioned that-- well, she's a low-income housing authority resident, a single mom, and we were talking about attending meetings. 

And she had a really, wonderful phrase that was basically, "We are just busy trying to survive. It's really hard to make space for attending public meetings." So I think just realizing that under served populations they don't necessarily have the time or the capacity to attend all of the public meetings that we have typically held, which have been in the evenings, where there wasn't necessarily the best transportation access. 

And just really acknowledging or having public agencies acknowledge that it's a luxury to attend the public meeting, and it does take a lot of effort to make it accessible to people who have not been plugged in. People who are able to attend public meetings, they probably have their personal vehicle so that they could drive. They have child care lined up so that they can attend. 

So I just think that looking at all of the individual barriers that people who are under served have, helps us understand that people aren't disengaged because they want to be disengaged. They have really great opinions and suggestions on how to improve the system. 

But we need to make the effort to make sure that we're meeting them on their terms, make sure that they are in an area that they feel comfortable, such as a public library, make sure that they have transportation access to get to the meetings, and making it is easy as possible for them to get engaged. 

So, it does take a little bit more prep on our part being public sector employees. But I think it's worth it. And I think that it can help us get away from elected officials and government agencies only listening to those who are the most vocal. Which oftentimes, at least in our community, that's what happens, is people who can show up to a 10 o'clock meeting to talk about zoning changes or talk about new developments, those are the ones that get listen to a little bit more. So, yeah. 

DEBRITTANY MITCHELL: Absolutely, that makes complete sense. I mean, both in terms of people having difficulty sometimes getting to the in-person meetings and the people who attend the meetings and those who are more vocal than others may seem to dominate the conversation at times. 

And I think that just bringing up the point of the ways of the different types of engagement methods that we can use to bring people to the table. Is there anything that you've tried outside of in-person meetings, like surveys, for example, or other mechanisms where people don't have to come into a physical place to share their feedback or opinion on issues? 

ANGEL BOND: Yeah, so during the Inclusive Planning, Round 1 Grant that we were awarded with TTAA, we did a community wide survey for the transportation master plan. And we tried several different things. One, we were able to go to our community partners locations like the community food bank that's in Lafayette. 

We were also able to go to the Medicaid Clinic, and we were able to set up tables and do in-person intercept surveys just to meet people where they're at. We also were able to partner with our community transit organization via mobility services, and they were able to call their clients and conduct the surveys over the phone, which was really helpful, in addition to having the survey available online. 

We actually were kind of approaching it from the opposite standpoint. So what you suggested, reaching people where they're at, online or whatever, instead of expecting them to come to public meetings. We were actually trying to overcome the technology barriers to taking an online survey more than we were actually trying to avoid a public meeting. 

And we just wanted to make sure that we reached people through Facebook just because the populations that we were trying to reach, they were a little bit more active on Facebook than other social media platforms. And then just basically between the intercept surveys, having the community transit organization via mobility services, call people, and reaching people through social media, we did offer it on our website as well. So people were able to give their feedback outside of a public meeting, which was definitely helpful for many. 

DEBRITTANY MITCHELL: It sounds like you all put a lot of work into meeting people where they are. And that's definitely excellent. Can you tell us a little bit more about-- earlier in the conversation you mentioned you all had a steering committee. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you formed that committee and the types of activities that they worked on? 

ANGEL BOND: Yeah, for sure. So, our steering committee-- I basically was trying to recruit them from the beginning through our community partners. And we had some people who have been involved in previous efforts that we've had. We did a video for our local Coordinating Council, which is our Human Services Transportation Coalition. 

So we had people in the community that we had previously worked with on different projects. And we reached out to them and asked if they wanted to be involved in the process. But really, we weren't getting the geographic diversity that we really wanted to get. And also we weren't getting as many caregivers as what we had wanted for our grant proposal. 

And so, I ended up hosting a recruitment to call for volunteers for the steering committee on our Nextdoor page. And as a county, we are able to have like an official government Nextdoor page. And it was amazing. Within 24 hours I had about 30 people volunteer for the steering committee just because that Nextdoor platform really seemed very local to people. 

And so, we really went through-- we developed a survey that basically screened for different mode use, different demographics, different experiences with transportation barriers. And we really wanted to make sure that the steering committee was representative of our county. So we were able to get people from the Mountain Communities and from Eastern Boulder County, which were two areas that had been underrepresented in previous efforts. 

And it really was a good group. It was a pretty dynamic group. What we found was that older adults and people with disabilities had different scheduling needs than caregivers. And so, in the end one of the biggest-- not necessarily biggest. 

But one issue that we dealt with was getting caregiver's feedback. Because they were just so busy it was hard to schedule a time that they were able to attend meetings. So we did end up having three caregivers on our steering committee. 

DAVID HOFF: We want to thank Angel Bond for joining us on this edition of the Transportation Planning 4 All podcast. Angel's story of transportation advocacy shows the critical importance of planning for inclusion and making a community's voice heard. 

Angel walked us through her journey updating Boulder County's transportation plan to be more inclusive of older adults and persons with disabilities. Angel and her team were able to engage a steering committee and hold community conversations throughout the county as well as engage diverse and hard to reach populations with limited to no transportation access. 

DEBRITTANY MITCHELL: The key takeaway Angel shared is the importance of meeting community members where they are, which requires proper planning and coordination to identify the most appropriate engagement strategies and best accommodate those who face multiple barriers to attending the meetings and participating in the discussions. 

This podcast is a production of Transit Planning 4 All, an inclusive and coordinated transportation planning project seeking to increase inclusion in transportation planning and services for people with disabilities and older adults. Transit Planning 4 All is funded by the Administration on Community Living at the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

Transit Planning 4 All is operated by the Community Transportation Association of America, or CTAA, in conjunction with N4A, the Association of Area Agencies on Aging, DJB Evaluation Consultation, and the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. 

Our project website is ACLTOOLKIT.com. If you have questions or comments on this podcast, please go to our website, ACLTOOLKIT.com and click on the ask the experts section. Episodes of the Transit Planning 4 All podcast are released monthly via our website in various podcast platforms. This is DeBrittany Mitchell. 

DAVID HOFF: And this is David Hoff. Thanks for listening and please join us again. 

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