POSITION: Community Relations Analyst, City of Raleigh, North Carolina; member, 2019 IAP2 North American Conference Planning Committee
How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked? Overall, I have worked in the P2 field for 10 years. I currently work in the City of Raleigh’s Community Engagement Division as a Community Relations Analyst. Previously, I worked for a local non-profit as a Policy & Outreach Program Coordinator.
What turned you on to P2 in the first place? I have always been a ‘people person’ and ‘problem solver’ so, naturally working in public service was the right fit. I genuinely enjoy empowering residents and allowing the opportunities for their voice to be heard. I believe there is power in being open to different perspectives and lived experiences.
I first learned about IAP2 from a past Administrator who came across the information online. In hopes of learning more, I attended the 2017 IAP2 conference in Denver, Colorado and it was a whirlwind of information! I met other like-minded professionals from across the world who were excited about taking public participation to the next level.
Tell us a bit about your public engagement experience before joining the City
I worked for a non-profit that did a lot of juvenile justice outreach and education. One of the main focus areas was how create a continuum of care for youth who found themselves in the juvenile court system. They might get into a fight at school, or involved with drugs: maybe there’d be mental health issues involved. They would be assigned to a court counsellor, but there was a lot of time between identifying the problem and anything being done about it.
So, I was part of a group working on the situation. See, this was happening in rural North Carolina, and we were coming in from Raleigh, which is a major city. So, the first thing we had to do was establish a rapport with the people to find out who they were and what they needed. We held different events, like focus groups and one-on-one conversations. There’s a large population of Native Americans, so we had to find out who the leadership was and reach out to them. We also had to identify who impacted these children’s lives, family advocates, the school system, elected officials, social services, representatives of the court system, mental health professionals and so on. We had to ask, “Who needs to be at the table who isn’t here?”
After the first couple of large group meetings, we realized everyone was working in silos. For example: the child would get into trouble with the police and the police wouldn’t contact the school; so, the child goes back to school and gets in trouble again. So, the lowest-hanging fruit – the easiest solution — was to break down the silos and create a continuum of communication.
The system was changed so that, as soon as an incident occurred, the juvenile court counsellor would be called, and within three or four days, the youth would receive mental health assessments, and before the youth went before a judge, teachers, court counsellors, police, parents, would have met to discuss the situation.
We began to partner with other nonprofits in the area that provided services the child and their family could utilize. It was amazing, and I was excited to be part of it for three-and-a-half years.
How would you describe the City of Raleigh’s move towards embracing P2? Was it a “culture shift”? How long did it take? Was there a particular incident that spurred the city to engage the public more? Was there a particular decision-maker who was responsible?
No one specific event spurred our move to more engagement. In 2015, our City Council members adopted a five-year strategic plan. The Strategic Plan has six key focus areas which reflect the current and future identity and character of the city. The plan contains citywide objectives and strategic initiatives needed to support the key focus areas. One focus area is “safe, vibrant and healthy community”,with an initiative focused on “Strengthening neighborhoods’ social fabric through community outreach, engagement and communication.” Community Engagement is a hot topic these days.
The City of Raleigh has just over 450,000 people. It’s very diverse and growing every day. We can’t grow out anymore, so we’re growing up, with lots of high rises and people from up north moving down to Raleigh because of the cost of living up there. We’re a “city inside of a park”, with lots of greenspace, diverse cultural events, universities and higher-education institutions.
All of our departments touch residents in different ways, and they all have different ways of engaging. As part of City Council’s desire to strengthen community engagement and communication, staff began researching different community engagement models to implement citywide.Part of our discussion over the long term is to have a toolkit – a framework for engagement – to streamline that process. We’re fairly new to the IAP2 model in Raleigh – it’s a work in progress.
Going to the conferences was very helpful to me, realizing that the process of implementing P2 is different for every city. It takes time and you must make sure every voice is at the table.
The City of Edmonton inspired me. I saw their presentation at the 2017 conference in Denver and I realized this was where we were trying to go – in some ways, we just hadn’t put a name on it yet.
That’s what I love about IAP2 – people are “open source” – open to sharing best practices and “this is what worked for us”. People truly care about improving public engagement.
Have you had any “big wins”?
The City of Raleigh has taken advantage of the IAP2 USA Government Membership program.
My supervisor and I completed the Foundations & Techniques trainings.
A newly formed relationship with the City of Charlotte blossomed out of attending the 2017 Conference. There are discussions regarding the formation of a IAP2 chapter on the east coast.
Some City of Raleigh staff are on the 2019 IAP2 North American Conference planning committee.
Have you had any “golden learning moments”? I have had several “learning moments” over the past year.
The Foundations Course taught me the fundamentals of planning for good engagement & provided detailed materials to use as a reference. Good public participation takes time & must include a well thought- out process.
Implementing IAP2 into the way you do business is going to be a culture shift. “Change the language, change the culture”. It will not be a quick process and looks different for each organization.
The Core Values are useful to public engagement professionals when developing and implementing public participation processes. These Values help inform better decisions that reflect the interests and concerns of potentially affected people and entities.
During the 2018 conference, the importance of organizations building relationships and rapport with citizens prior to projects was emphasized. Engagement should be ongoing with citizens no matter if there is a special project or not.
What does it mean to have the North American Conference come to North Carolina next year? It’s the first time the conference has been held on the East Coast, and it’s coming to Charlotte, with involvement from Raleigh.
It’s exciting because there’s a lot of great work being done on the east coast. I’ve been to smaller conferences on the theme of community engagement, so having IAP2 come to North Carolina will bring necessary information to take their engagement to the next level. It will definitely pique other municipalities and government organizations. Charlotte is well-known, and people will come to see the place.
There have been lots of discussions on an East Coast IAP2 chapter, and this will spur the growth. We’re sending invitations to everyone, so they can hear about the great work being done and hear the stories at the conferences. People on my side of the country need to hear about it – especially those in public service who are “Working for the Greater Good.” We want to provide the resources and information. I see how IAP2 has blossomed and grown on the West Coast and in Canada, and it’s a great opportunity for others to see the great things we’re doing here.
If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …
The IAP2 Core Values and Code Ethics really help inform my work & role when I am part of interdepartmental teams tasked with engaging the public. I have internalized the IAP2 principles and reflected on how they will impact my work. It has changed the way I communicate with my teams, I bring the spectrum & other IAP2 materials to the meetings as a reference.
Wow! Victoria…what a place! We were blessed with beautiful sunny weather and a crowd of friendly hosts. Even on the day it rained, our lucky whale watching field trip attendees were surprised and excited to see multiple whales on what the boat crew deemed, “perhaps they best sightings they’d ever had.” The meetings and sessions held indoors were no less exciting (or perhaps just mildly so)!
Many thanks are due to our Canadian hosts and the 2018 Conference committee for their hard work and warm welcome. Additional thanks go to the record-breaking 390 conference attendees and the speakers who really made this a fantastic conference. I enjoyed the breadth of offerings this year and attended sessions ranging from a panel of municipal P2 practitioners tackling a broad range of engagement issues and topics to a panel of energy sector practitioners discussing very specific processes and goals. Most intriguing for me this year was a workshop designed to test a proposed Indigenous Engagement Spectrum against the IAP2 Spectrum, which prompted a wonderful conversation – both practical and philosophical in nature. There were excellent keynote speakers and amazing insights from practitioners everywhere I turned.
In the days leading up to the conference, the IAP2 USA Board held its face-to-face meeting and discussed organizational sustainability, the new Ambassador Program, the 2019 IAP2 NAC Conference in Charlotte, NC and looked to the future as we prepare for board nomination period opening on October 17. We are excited to continue growing the organization (membership has nearly tripled in the last 5 years!) and looking forward to continuing to provide excellent member services like the webinars; conferences, trainings and symposia; and connecting more closely with members and chapters across the US as well as our international colleagues.
Any organization as widespread as ours must continually assess the way we work together to meet member needs and advocate for good practice. This process has been ongoing since 2017 and with the input of the regional boards and the international board, the change committee came up with seven strategic priority areas and a series of recommendations that will enable us to reshape our international collaborative network that lives and abides by the IAP2 core values. Earlier this year, members were asked to give feedback on those and that input fed into high-level discussions with representatives from each regional board in Victoria the day the conference began.
We now have seven endorsed strategic priority areas and 36 endorsed recommendations. There is plenty of work to be done around these priority areas and recommendations and we’ll need your help to continue supporting and shaping the organization to be what we want it to be. This will be an incredible opportunity for members looking to get engaged with their international peers and to look at the organization in a more global perspective. Read the letter from Federation Presiding Member Kylie Cochrane to find out more.
More locally – a number of US chapters will hold elections this fall, and six seats are opening up on the US Board. We are looking for P2 folks from areas of practice, all regions of the country and with all levels of expertise. The Board should reflect the US membership, so consider this your personal invitation to participate, whether you have 3 years’ or 30 years’ experience in the field, whether there is an established chapter in your area or not. We recognize that member needs are always in flux and hope to continue leading by example. Self-nominations are accepted, so please consider the special skills and competencies you might have to offer. Nominations open October 17.
And, if you missed out on this year’s conference, we hope to see you at next month’s webinar – “Building P2 Into Your Organization” (October 9), improving your toolbox at the2019 Skills Symposium, February 25 – March 1 in Austin, TX and enjoying a big dose of southern hospitality in Charlotte, NC next September.
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has extended its comment period to 08/20/2018. The CEQ has posed six questions to the public regarding the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This could have a significant impact on the process and quality of P2. We want to make a stand for good P2, why it is important and why we need to fight for it. For this reason, IAP2 USA has elected to provide feedback on Question 6:
Question 6: Should the provisions in CEQ’s NEPA regulations relating to public involvement be revised to be more inclusive and efficient, and if so, how?
We as a community are uniquely poised to respond. We are asking you to be a part of “Pursuing the Greater Good” and to advocate for “Good Decisions Made Together” by responding to the NEPA request for comment.
The IAP2 USA Board has put together its own comment letter and we hope that this will encourage you to do the same. Please take a look and feel free to use comments/sections that resonate with you in your responses.
Growing Good P2 one Connection at a Time By: Stacee Adams
The shortest distance between two people is often a story, and IAP2 USA is launching a new Ambassador Program to recruit storytellers and others interested in creating new relationships that further the reach of “good P2”. The Ambassador Program is being piloted in 2018 by the Communications Committee with the goals of recruiting a core of ambassadors from across the U.S. to raise awareness of what good P2 is and what it looks like; support strategic alliance building; and work with cities and project owners to sign Core Values pledges. The pilot launches this month with a national recruitment for participants. Ambassadors will be incentivized with resources including a toolkit, professional development, training, networking and recognition in IAP2 promotional materials and at the North American Conference. Requirements to participate include joining quarterly conference calls, tracking IAP2 marketing activities and securing Core Values pledges. Are you interested in being an Ambassador and have a story about IAP2 and its impact in your work? If so, send us an email about your interest in joining the program. We’ll be collecting responses through April 15.
POSITION: Director of Government & Community Relations Maui Electric
I believe that the public deserves a voice, and I also believe that not all governments and companies are ill-intended. There’s so much energy spent on conflict, and we have better things to do, like being with our families, having fun, pursuing personal passions; so participating with so little time and interest can get in the way. I also like that P2 is a good way to guide a process to a good resolution.
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.
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.
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else’s language, even if it’s just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, “I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.” – “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah
Language is how we communicate with one another and, since it is how we communicate, it is often the fodder for our emotions. Our hearts swell when someone says they love us for the first time, we weep when we confront terrible news, we laugh when we are told a joke, and we are enraged when we are presented with injustice.
When IAP2 originally created the Foundations course, John Godec was the principal writer of the section that discussed risk communication and dealing with upset people. Frequently, the trainers would receive feedback that they wanted to spend more time on this section. In response to this demand Stephani Roy McCallum, John Godec, and Mary Hamel created a class called Emotion and Outrage in Public Participation (recently retitled Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in P2).
“The course is about human behavior. It’s about social psychology. About the psychology of people and people’s perception. How people perceive and interpret information differently depending on their emotional state.” -John Godec
Much of the content in the class on risk communication comes from Dr. Peter Sandman, an expert in the area whose model of risk is Risk = Hazard + Outrage. Dr. Sandman discusses three types of risk communication that can be understood by mapping where they fall on a chart of outrage and hazard, see the image below.
Much of the content in the class on risk communication comes from Dr. Peter Sandman, an expert in the area whose model of risk is Risk = Hazard + Outrage. Dr. Sandman discusses three types of risk communication that can be understood by mapping where they fall on a chart of outrage and hazard, see the image left.
See Dr. Peter Sandman’s full video on this topic here.
This is a helpful tool that provides a practical approach to managing people’s outrage. However, when I think about the kind of outrage that troubles the United States today, I can’t help but think that there is a third dimension to this chart. A z-axis that acknowledges that hazards are not experienced evenly across populations. And while we have made a lot of progress on a range of issues, I would also say that this progress was made without acknowledging the z-axis and, to Trevor Noah’s point, only in one language and that is the language of a group that is predominantly upper class, white, and male. As a result, we have left certain important pieces of issues unresolved and unacknowledged and all we know is that the solutions have supposedly “created jobs” or “grew the GDP.” These aren’t words that go to my heart.
I had the privilege of speaking with John Godec and Stephani Roy McCallum to understand how they believed the patterns of opposition and outrage have changed and what they think we can do about it. Do they see patterns in the opposition and outrage they encounter in their work? Yes. And more of it. John said that he believed a lot of this growth comes from the widening gap between the government and the governed. That gap has fostered a large amount of distrust fueled by rhetoric citing government as the issue rather than the problem and the fact that government doesn’t work well for many people. However, the closer people are to government services, the more likely they are to trust their government, which means somewhere there’s a fundamental breakdown in communication.
Stephani pointed out that these highly charged spaces are also more visible than ever with the support of social media, with more people engaging in the demonization of people who they view as “on the other side.” She went on to say that this is not an experience unique to the United States, but is occurring across the globe. “[The political situation in the United States] is just a bellwether of that shift.”
Taken all at once, these issues are incredibly daunting. What can we, as P2 practitioners, do to manage outrage and opposition in our own communities?
1. Go beyond the project level.
Dealing with emotion and outrage successfully is “about the whole system changing not just about completing a project,” says Stephani. She noted that this is a big challenge in P2, that so much of the focus is on the project level, which is not a way to change people’s hearts and minds. Emotion and outrage are often closely tied to a lack of trust. It’s important to do good P2 even when the public isn’t going to be upset and when you aren’t asking anything of them. Put goodwill in the bank over time, rather than starting from a position of asking for newfound trust at the beginning of each project.
2. Do your due diligence.
If there is one thing that John and Stephani taught me, it’s that there is no excuse for not knowing about opposition. None. You should never be surprised by the fact that there is opposition. To make sure this carnal offense never happens, do your due diligence. Talk to the community and ask them who else you should talk to. John said “the ability to predict how people are going to feel about a project is critical to the process.” Get out there and get to know your community!
3. Don’t underestimate your community.
Believe it or not, people want to help. Stephani said that she enjoys working in spaces with high emotion, because they “are spaces of opportunity and possibility; when people have passion, they give you something to work with.” An example of this is a story John told me about a transportation project in Arizona. A major intersection was going to be redesigned and would shut down access to downtown for 18 months. An environmental study predicted this work would lead to the closure of 15 local businesses. Originally the approach was an informational campaign, but then John brought the stakeholders into a room together with local residents and business owners to talk about any possible ways to mitigate the impacts. They adjusted, tweaked, and pushed the schedule around in a way that was able to “minimize anger and optimize the situation.” This was supplemented with a targeted promotional effort for the businesses that were going to be impacted the most. After much relationship- and trust-building, the community was determined to support these businesses. In the end six businesses opened, zero failed. Never underestimate a community’s ability to be creative and pull together.
4. Put down the templates
IAP2 courses on emotion, outrage, and opposition will provide new ways of thinking about these issues and will provide tools and approaches to try. They will also help you think about how you show up to a meeting and what issues you and your organization are dealing with. Stephani said, “the course is a powerful first step in thinking differently and learning how to approach opposition and polarization in a different way. But it is not a magic wand.” Sometimes people think that if they fill out enough forms or the poster boards are good enough that it will overcome the outrage, but that will never be the case because then you are speaking a language they understand rather than their language. Stephani worked on a project in Canada dealing with conflict about language, a highly polarized issue rooted in identity, and she said “it is not about results or facts. It’s about the culture of communities. For this, we need a model for having brave and honest conversations.” In her work to unpack this issue and transform the nature of the conflict, Stephani worked with participants to create a story-based process where they could share their experiences- good, bad, and ugly. There is no template for doing this, but effective and successful P2 will help participants see the whole person and not just the issue.
5.Relax, nothing is under control
Over-reliance on tools, process steps, and check boxes will gain you the illusion of control, but lose, as Stephani pointed out, “the heart, soul, and complexity of the issue.” It also, as John pointed out, makes you “lose sight of the fact that there are real human beings affected by what [you] do.” There is no magic formula for avoiding outrage. If opposition (that, hopefully, you were anticipating) arises, stop. Talk to people. Give them individual or small group attention and consideration. John noted that “the worst thing you could do is hold a public meeting.” This is an opportunity to build trust for both you and your community, and it is important to be able to trust them enough to give the control away. As Stephani said, “The messier it is, the more there is to work with.”
There is a lot of despair here in the United States and around the world. Despair created by nature, by humankind, and a combination of the two. I spent the last week surrounded by P2 practitioners at the North American Conference hosted by IAP2 USA and Canada, but attended by people from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa, Europe – and those are just the people I personally encountered. Each one of these people attended the conference to become better at showing their communities not what makes them different, but what they have in common with one another. It certainly gave me hope to know we’d all land back home re-energized and ready to expand our community vocabulary.
Thank you to John Godec and Stephani Roy McCallum for taking time to speak with me about their experience designing the EOP2 course and their personal experiences dealing with emotion and outrage in communities.