Pathways: a North American Conference Journey.

This year we tried something new and exciting that the North American Conference called Pathways. Participants took part in one of three different pathways:

  • National Dialogue: Are we facing a P2 crisis or opportunity?
  • Collaboration for the Greater Good
  • Powerfully Positive Questions for P2 in a Changing World.

Each pathway took place over the course of two days. Participants got to set their agenda, co-create, and co-host, and participate in the presentation of their findings during the conference finale on Friday.

Here is what they said:

Collaboration for the Greater Good worked hard at creating a visual display of the path to better collaboration. They brainstormed process design, elements for colaboration blueprints, how to define a common goal or purpose when setting out into a community. The pre-conditions for better collaboration were relationship through willingness and mutual respect; being a neutral facilitator open to diverse interests and aware of interrelationships; need for a process and how to work within “norms”.  The building blocks of a solid facilitator process started with governance, trust, a solid process, and making sure all contribute to search for and achieve that common goal.

Encyclopedia of Positive Questions worked through a process in their two days of question hunting. They gathered stories and core factors of P2 at its best, selected topics for inquiry, wrote questions, provided appreciative feedback, refined questions, tested questions, and finally shared their questions with the P2 Community! Their product?

Three types of positively powerful questions:

  • Questions on the topics from the opening session to learn from those doing P2.
  • Questions on topics that define a credible process to learn from the public.
  • Questions on issues related to water resources, land planning, transportation, resiliency, etc. to explore the issues we study.

National Dialogue: Are we facing a P2 crisis or Opportunity? Worked through some of the toughest questions that you may have pondered as P2 Practitioners. Over the course of two days, participants worked through 3 major questions.

  • We hear a constant message that we are a divided country. What are the challenges to our work?
  • How are those challenges affecting the spirit of public participation?
  • What might we do as individuals and organizations to support quality P2 in our communities and nation?

Here is what they said…

What are the challenges to our work? Many of the issues we work with are as complex at the community which we serve. As times have changed, people have become more insular, generally less “community-minded”, and a lot more divisive and uncivil. We see more “other-ing”, greater barriers to showing up, and people are just plain disenfranchised the the process leading to decreased trust in institutions. There is a lack of relevant and meaningful information, and possibly more-so, there is no agreement on what the facts are.

How are those challenges affecting the spirit of public participation? We spend a lot more time overcoming fears and anxieties, building trust, and sorting out all the emotions that seem to outweigh the process. We experience a lack of open-mindedness regularly. These are the folks who have made up their mind and are not open to listening.  This severely limits creativity in the p2 process and results in polarized communities.

What might we do as individuals and organizations to support quality p2 in our communities and nation? We can listen without distraction engage through activities. Make efforts to advocate in our communities for good p2 processes and community involvement. As a P2 Practitioner we can demonstrate civility, vulnerability, and curiosity through how we design our process, but also we implement the process, and how we deliver results.

Their final conclusion? We need more of this. We need to ask these questions across the United States, as well as internationally. We need to make an effort to better our case to business owners and decision makers across the spectrum. And most of all we need to step up and become the champion for the thing that binds IAP2-ers from around the globe together…

Public Participation.

If you would like to hold a National Dialogue Event in your area, or are interested in getting involved, please email

Watch an informational video or check out the informational package today!

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