After stepping down as treasurer of the Northland Community Council in April 2010, Salem Area Civic Association member Brenda Baker expressed some concerns at the following monthly meeting.

After stepping down as treasurer of the Northland Community Council in April 2010, Salem Area Civic Association member Brenda Baker expressed some concerns at the following monthly meeting.

"I don't think that NCC is quite fully meeting our member expectations," she said.

Baker noted that meetings were increasingly being given over to presentations from outside groups and not enough time was devoted to member organizations sharing information about building community and resolving neighborhood issues.

Brandon L. Boos is now the Salem Area Civic Association representative to the community council. He also recently consented to head the new community outreach and relations committee.

One of his first acts has been to create a subcommittee, the Inter-Civic Exchange.

"It is part of the council's strategic 'in-reach' efforts that are designed to support Columbus' Northland community from the ground up by enabling and strengthening its many civic associations and neighborhood councils," Boos wrote in announcing formation of the Exchange.

It won't lengthen NCC monthly meetings. The subcommittee will meet separately.

The first meeting has not been scheduled, but Boos indicated his plan is for monthly sessions for the first six months. After that, there will be a reevaluation to determine how often the participants should get together.

"The exchange will explore a wide range of topics, including issues related to recruiting, marketing, organizational structure, fundraising, communicating in print and online and community-building," Boos wrote in the email. "For young associations, this is going to be a chance to learn from their neighbors' years of experience, and for Northland's more established groups, this represents an opportunity for innovation. It could also lead to more cooperation between associations on any number of projects and issues.

"All NCC members are asked to send a representative to the Inter-Civic Exchange," he wrote. "Ideally, this person will be someone who is familiar with the structure, operations and history of their association and is able to talk about the things it has done and how they turned out. This is one more step toward making Northland's civic associations and communities even stronger."

"I think it's a great idea," NCC president Dave Paul said. "It's one of the things that certainly we've thought over the years that NCC was uniquely positioned to do."

Paul has even gone so far as to create a Facebook page specifically for the Inter-Civic Exchange.

"It certainly fits our charter," he said. "I'm very glad that Brandon is taking that initiative."

Boos was recruited to the community outreach and relations committee chairmanship by Emmanuel V. Remy, vice president of the NCC and president of the Clinton Estates Civic Association.

In response to questions via e-mail, Boos discussed the process by which he came up with the Inter-Civic Exchange concept.

"When Emmanuel first approached me about chairing an outreach committee for the NCC, I took a little while to think about what that would mean, for the NCC and for Northland as a whole," he wrote. "The goal of any NCC outreach would be to better our community and I kept coming back to the idea that one of the best ways for us to do that would be to strengthen Northland's civic associations.

"It might not be traditional outreach, since most of Northland's civics are NCC members, but I think that it is both appropriate and necessary for the NCC to spend some of its resources reaching out and strengthening these groups that are the genesis of so much good in their communities.

"The decision to do that through the Inter-Civic Exchange was based on the understanding that our civics share much more than just a desire to improve their area," he said. "When you talk to the members of these organizations and go to their meetings, it becomes obvious that most of them are facing the same issues, asking the same questions and fighting the same battles. They're all reinventing the wheel when it comes to writing bylaws, recruiting, distributing newsletters, building a block-watch or a thousand other things."

Boos pointed out that it is common practice in the business world to look to peers for ideas on what's working and what's not when it comes to operations.

"That's a big part of what this is about: finding the things that work and benchmarking them for others so everyone can be successful. It's not a new idea, it's a proven method."

Success for the initiative, he continued, will be measured primarily on what he hears back from participants.

"The usual quantitative measures like number of meetings held, number of topics addressed or even the percentage of associations participating won't mean much if this activity isn't helping anyone find solutions to their problems," Boos wrote. "The other thing that I'll look for is a bit of a culture change. Right now, it seems like the majority of the joint ventures that we see among the civics are on NCC activities like organizing the July 4 parade. As Northland's civics share ideas and gain more exposure to each other through the Inter-Civic Exchange, I hope that we'll see associations partnering-up on localized issues more frequently."

Finally, Boos noted that the Inter-Civic Exchange is only one aspect of his committee's efforts. The rest will focus on groups and organizations not now part of the Northland Community Council.