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.”
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.
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