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 email@example.com.
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.
Earlier this month, the Greater Los Angeles Chapter held its inaugural training event, attracting over forty planners and government staff as well as P2 practitioners. After a brief presentation describing his methodology, James Rojas, Founder of Place It! and Co-Founder of the Latino Urban Forum, guided attendees into the substance of his workshop. Attendees gathered around tables piled high with colorful, enticing materials first turning their favorite childhood memories, then their dreams for a sustainable Los Angeles, into art. As participants shared their childhood memories, their storhighlighted the similarities among all of us.
“Building” a sustainable Los Angeles out of art material is where participants become meaningful contributors to the plan for their region. James says, “Everyone is an urban planner in their heart and it’s our job to create a safe space for participants to reveal, respect, and translate their knowledge and experiences into the city building process.”
The training proved to be a big draw for the Greater Los Angeles chapter’s membership, breaking all records for Chapter meeting attendees. Kit Cole, Chapter President and IAP2 USA Board Member, commented, “There is a big appetite for skill development in the region, not only among P2 professionals but for others whose jobs are increasingly requiring them to exercise public engagement tactics.”
Since the Los Angeles Chapter started in 2015, the group has focused on building awareness of P2 in general and building the IAP2 brand specifically. Training is now the next step in the LA Chapter’s plan for increasing professionalism across the practice in Southern California.
Wendy Nowak of Placeworks, host of the October event, is working to meet a parallel demand for training in Orange County where she is starting an Orange County chapter for IAP2 USA. She and Kit are coordinating for future training events to meet the escalating desire for public engagement skills in the region.
By: Violeta Manoukian
Sustainable Resilient Longmont Board Member, and
IN-PACT Group, Founder and CEO
A truly enriching conference! It offered a broad spectrum of topics making it hard at times to choose which sessions to attend. As to be expected in many conferences there was also a broad range in the quality of presentations.
My favorite sessions (in chronological order) were (a) Digital Engagement – a cutting edge session about this fast growing aspect of participation where I learned about the latest developments; (b) An Ancient Solution Reimagined for Modern Times – an evidenced based presentation of DRUMBEAT’s successful approach to drumming as an inherently human community building activity was fun, inspiring and very enjoyable: and (c) Beginning With the Brain in Mind: Overcoming Polarization through Deliberative Process Design – a session offering a clear exposition of how we can transform negative aspects of human nature into critical positive aspects such as empathy and creativity, a much appreciated and timely contribution to the theme of this conference.
It was also my pleasure and honor to contribute to the group crafting of this year’s addition to the ‘IAP2 Conferences Questions Quilt’ by proposing the question “How can we create participatory spaces that nurture goodness, bravery, and collaboration?” I probably will be contemplating it for many months (years?) to come. . .
Two public entities that had to overcome skepticism on the inside and hostility on the outside took top honors at the 2017 IAP2 Core Values Awards. Donna Kell, Communications Manager with the City of Burlington, Ontario, Michelle Dwyer, Burlington’s Public Involvement Lead, and Deanna DeSedas, Public Outreach and Engagement Manager with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency joined us for the October Learning Webinar. In both cases, it was a message from the public, loud and clear, that decisions were being taken that affected them and they wanted “in”. And the proof of the pudding is summed up by one official: “My phone stopped ringing.”
Burlington had a wake-up call in 2010, when a report by “Shape Burlington” – a city-conceived committee of citizens – brought in a scathing review of the city’s community engagement. Not only did it identify gaps in communications and recommend the city make a commitment through an Engagement Charter, it described the current culture at city hall as “toxic”, and said that needed to change if there was to be proper engagement.
The review came out on the eve of municipal elections, so it got a lot of attention in the campaign that followed. Two members of the Shape Burlington Committee were elected to Council. As well, Burlington – with a population of about 180,000 – has been rated the “Best Mid-Sized City in Canada”, so there was a sense that that reputation was on the line.
Effective engagement requires four key elements:
A champion – inside and outside
A supportive organization
People passionate about P2
One of the breakthrough moments for Council members came in a course on “P2 for Decision-Makers”. Michelle says one could see “the light go on” over the heads of Council members as they realized that P2 is not about giving up authority but about sharing power. She knew then, the organizational support was there.
In 2013, Council approved the Community Engagement Charter, and it was implemented the following year. The Charter Action Plan was drawn up, with the Charter Action Team – aptly called “ChAT” – to ensure the Charter stayed front-of-mind.
Staff in each department received IAP2 Foundations training, as well as training in facilitation and survey writing and analytics. P2 tools are also made available to staff, with the P2 Spectrum front and centre. Tools include workshops, world cafes, focus groups, workbooks, telephone town-halls and a relatively new one, Feedback Frames. The City also launched an online portal where people can give their input as and when they need to and an online portal to give people the opportunity.
A very important use of the Community Engagement Charter has been in the development of Burlington’s 2015-2040 Strategic Plan. That plan includes Community Engagement as one of its four pillars. Burlington’s commitment to engagement also reaches out to the next generation(s), realizing that they’re building a city not just for now, but for the future.
P2 practitioners often go to great lengths to evaluate the success of a process. For the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, it was summed up by one top manager this way: “My phone stopped ringing.”
It’s a bit more complicated than that, but fewer phone calls meant fewer angry citizens. Public hostility towards the SFMTA – one of the largest multi-modal transportation systems in the USA – had reached a point where staff was resistant to planning or attending town halls and open houses. The Agency had become seen as a major government entity that simply dropped its projects on the public without considering the citizenry. The leadership readily admitted there was a problem, but had to tackle the big problem of how to solve it.
The solution was POETS – the Public Outreach and Engagement Team Strategy, a three-year project to make the public part of SFMTA’s plans and allow the agency to deliver its hundreds of projects successfully.
Deanna DeSedas, Public Outreach and Engagement Manager, says POETS has four key purposes:
a strategy to strengthen relationships and build trust with the community
a process to improve consistency across projects
a model for other departments in the City of San Francisco
a program to support and recognize staff efforts
Deanna and her team researched practices in no fewer than 25 other transportation agencies, and found almost all were in the same boat. She came up with a five-step approach that involved (1) identifying the “pain points”, (2) researching best practices, (3) making recommendations to officials, (4) implementing those recommendations and (5) evaluating and improving the processes. (Right now, SFMTA is at Step 5.)
Deanna’s team found that stakeholder frustration was costing money both through delays in projects and potential lawsuits, and that it was all traceable to the lack of engagement with the community. People were in the dark about the hundreds of projects around the city and there was no consistency in keeping citizens in the loop.
From there, the team developed POETS, and that strategy has included training over 70 staff across all departments in IAP2 Foundations (over 200 staff members are involved in POETS) and new hires are given an overview course in POETS – POETS 101 — as part of their onboarding.
POETS includes Public Outreach Notification Standards, guidelines all staff must adhere to for outreach and engagement in their projects. Developing a communications plan is mandatory, including a project needs assessment, stakeholder briefings, multi-channel communications and identifying P2 techniques in line with the IAP2 public participation spectrum. Staff members are supported with an extensive online library, which includes communications plans from other projects, materials from “POETS 101” and P2 peer group support.
From an agency dealing with a disorganized and often frustrating approach for outreach and engagement, has emerged a strategy, POETS, that has provided standards and structure where there was none. By providing staff with the necessary P2 tools and training, they have become empowered and are now connecting with communities and building a greater sense that staff and community engaged makes for better decisions, trust and relationships.
Think of it: five days, immersed in P2. A choice from nine courses, covering a variety of aspects in the practice. You’ll find something for everyone and every level of the profession at the 2018 IAP2 USA Skills Symposium, Feb. 26 – March 3 in Austin, Texas.
If you’re “just starting out” or need a refresher, we’ve got the full Foundations course — the three-day “Planning” section and the two-day “Techniques” section: take the whole five-day course, if you like.
You’ll hang out at the Commons Learning Center at the University of Texas at Austin and get special block pricing at the Lone Star Court — just $149/night! Register before December 13, and benefit from early bird registration fees!
So don’t delay — say “Heck, yeah!” to this unique opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills in Public Participation!