We always like to kick off the New Year with a look at the latest in digital engagement, and in January, we brought back together the members of the pre-conference DE workshop at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference in Denver. Dave Biggs (MetroQuest), Charles Connell (Social Pinpoint), Matt Crozier (Bang the Table) and Joseph Thornley (76engage) held a panel discussion, with over 100 people — a sellout crowd! — joining in.
The discussion ranges through a variety of topics. Here’s a sample of the panel’s observations:
Matt: “We can no longer separate digital engagement from in-person engagement — we need to think about how the methods work together. Digital is the only way you can take engagement from reaching tens or hundreds and into thousands or tens of thousands.
“You get more thoughtful responses through online and you can engage when a community is ready. If they’re not already engaged and a project comes up, people will go elsewhere to make their comments — usually on social media, outside the project.”
A growing challenge for a P2 practitioner is the deepening ideological divide that has developed over the past few decades. As people become more and more entrenched in their view and less and less likely to consider those of others, engaging the broadest cross-section of the public becomes more and more difficult.
Dr Martin Carcasson with the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University says finding a solution begins with understanding the root of the problem – the “brain science” behind polarization – and the December webinar was an encore of his presentation at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference, “Beginning With The Brain In Mind”.
Our human nature makes things problematic, Carcasson says. We crave certainty and consistency, and if we’re making a decision in a controversial or even polarized environment, we tend to protect that decision as much as possible, even in the face of contrary facts.
What’s more, people are suckers for the good-versus-evil narrative – through all cultures and all times, we love the hero-and-villain scenario, and Carcasson says that we’re teaching our children wrong by teaching them that there is an evil force behind bad things, when really, it’s more complicated than that.
We are “groupish” or tribal, preferring to associate with like-minded people. Some of the worst things – and some of the best things – that humans have done in history have stemmed from that mind-set.
More and more people, from many walks of life, are standing up to be counted on issues that affect them. That means those involved in public participation are called on to develop new and wide-ranging skill sets.
The 2018 IAP2 USA Skills Symposium — Feb. 26 – March 2 in Austin, TX — boasts a variety of one- and two-day courses, all in an environment of sharing and networking among P2 practitioners. Just look at some of the offerings:
“When Things Go Sideways” (1 day)
Conflict is generally a given in public forums, but sometimes the best-laid plans can come off the rails. How do you take anger and frustration and channel them into an environment for constructive engagement? This course explores tools and techniques for embracing high emotion in public settings. You’ll increase your self-awareness about personal reactions and responses to other people’s emotions. Register here.
IAP2 Canada and IAP2 USA are seeking session proposals for the 7th Annual IAP2 North American Conference to be held September 5-7, 2018 in Victoria, BC, Canada.
This is an opportunity to explore the theme, Growing a Culture of P2, with content focusing on topics that Innovate, Inspire, Include, Influence, and Imagine!
Please review the Call for Session Proposals first as it contains information on what the Program Committee is looking for and tips on what to include in your Session Proposal Application.
The majority of the sessions will be in English, however, we plan to include some bilingual sessions. Please indicate in the application if you would like to make your presentation in French and English (simultaneous interpretation will not be provided).
The deadline to submit a proposal is Monday, February 12, 2018!
You have a project. It can benefit a lot of people, but for whatever reason, you run into a major roadblock: hostility from the very people it’s supposed to benefit. How do you approach these roadblocks and overcome that hostility?
The November Learning Webinar featured the winners of the IAP2 Core Values Awards for Project of the Year, and both of these had to address a very skeptical public. In fact, the City of Calgary had to shut down its plan to upgrade the Crowchild Trail – a major transportation corridor from the north end of the city to the south – because of hostility from the public. And the Mental Health Center of Denver learned to change one often-used term and leave out another altogether, in order to create a branch in an impoverished area of the Mile-High City.
As we reflect on the things we are thankful for, IAP2 USA would like to thank its members for regularly providing input and feedback on the services and programs we provide. You are taking the surveys, filling out evaluations, sharing social media posts and emailing suggestions. So, thank you for being engaged and communicating with us regularly!
The feedback you have provided through the membership survey, conference and program evaluations and via individual comments have been reviewed and incorporated into the updated IAP2 USA Strategic Plan (2018-2020). We are pleased to report that significant progress has been made since the creation of the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan and we continue to advocate for best practices in public participation, for the professionalization of the field and remain the organization of choice for good P2.
Assistant Research Scientist, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?
I started with Morris Communications in Portland, Maine. I was an English major, with a knack for writing, so after I graduated I took this job as my primary role was producing meeting minutes. I was immediately interested in the field and planning and public engagement and my role with MC grew from taking meeting minutes, to being involved in all aspects of the P2 process, as well as the planning activities for the projects we worked on.
I went to graduate school at the University of Texas, Austin, to earn my masters in Urban Planning and when I went to TTI, I found a mix of planning and applied P2. At TTI, we conduct research that improves the state of the practice for P2 by allowing us to test innovative methods in the field. This includes developing and testing performance measures for P2 and incorporating more technology into public involvement processes.
One example was a virtual open house we designed for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), where we used a live chat feature to replicate the experience of an in person public meeting in a virtual setting.
What was the state of P2 when you first arrived in Texas?
When I moved there five years ago, I was curious to see whether the culture of public involvement would be different from the Northeast. The transportation agencies in Central Texas were doing a lot of work, as the region is growing rapidly. The challenge in Central Texas, which I found was not unique to this area, was bringing together the many different interests throughout the region.
Do you have what it takes to become a Certified Public Participation Professional (CP3)?
Knowing and showing that you provide quality P2 is key in today’s marketplace. Certification is your way to do so. If you have taken the IAP2 Foundations course (formerly the Certificate training), have experience delivering good P2, and are ready to have your work assessed by a panel of your professional peers, then it is time to get certified.
The IAP2 Certification Program is a rigorous assessment of your skills and capabilities. Over the past several years, with help from our worldwide membership the IAP2 USA Certification Task Force has developed 5 Core Competencies. These Core Competencies are used to assess whether you have what it takes to be certified as a CP3.
Members, we have some incredible candidates for you to choose from and we hope that you will take the time to get to know them a little bit better before you vote. The following is a quick snapshot of the 2018-2020 Board candidates – please click on their information links to learn more. Deadline for member voting is Monday, December 4th via Election Buddy.
We want to apologize for any confusion with the Election Buddy invitation you received yesterday– unfortunately, this was sent out with a draft ballot. We have now closed the Wednesday election process – none of those votes will count. Today we sent you a new invite. Please use the new ballot to vote for your preferred candidates. If you have any further questions please contact Anneliese at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hard work that ensures the people have a voice in things that affect them is often unsung. The Core Values Awards recognize the achievements of organizations through a particular year. Now comes the Greater Good Award, which recognizes bodies of work by individuals. Selected by the President after reviewing nominations from members, the first of these awards were announced at the North American Conference in Denver in September.
The first two honorees come from markedly different backgrounds: a pioneer of the practice — Dr James Creighton — and one who ensures P2 is at work daily in one of America’s largest, most diverse cities — Grayce Liu.