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. . .
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.
Want something meatier?
There’s “Social Media & P2”, “When Things Go Sideways”, “Strategies for Dealing With Opposition and Outrage” (formerly EOP2) or the one-day “Toolz for Tough Conversations”
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!
See y’all there!
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:
A new award to celebrate excellence in the field of public participation in the US. This is your chance to nominate an individual who has exerted outstanding leadership, service, and application of IAP2’s core values. Do you know someone who is worthy of this accolade. The deadline for applications is August 31st. We will be recognizing the winner at the IAP2 North American Conference in Denver this September.
Send in your nomination
Social media is a beast! There is so much trial and error when it comes to emerging tools. Why not reduce the footwork and increase your knowledge! Join us this September in “Social Media & Public Participation” with Susanna Haas Lyons! This online course will cover:
- foundational concepts of digital engagement,
- consider its benefits and risks,
- and explore strategic frameworks for determining which online tools to use.
You will learn the basics of how content gets seen on social media, and have an opportunity to strengthen the impact of your social media posts.
Evaluation should always be useful. “Evaluation & Public Participation” will cover theories and practical strategies to help you evaluate your public participation efforts. In this online course, you will examine the differences between process and impact evaluation, and review the components of a basic evaluation plan. You will craft evaluation questions, identify indicators and consider sources of information to help you answer those questions. Above all, you will learn how to employ evaluative thinking as a learning strategy, in order to strengthen your work and achieve greater impact!
By: Deanna Desedas
IAP2 USA Board Member
In 2014, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) conducted an internal assessment of its public outreach and engagement practices with the goal of improving consistency across its 200+ projects. They also interviewed other transportation agencies nationwide, and researched best practices in the field of public participation. Based on this assessment, the agency created its Public Outreach and Engagement Team Strategy (POETS), pointing a new path forward and starting a close relationship with IAP2.
During three years of development and implementation, POETS has sought to embody the IAP2 core principles. Key concepts promoted by IAP2 (such as the spectrum of public participation) have contributed to a shared language and understanding among leadership and staff at SFMTA. And perhaps most importantly, IAP2 training has had a direct impact on the agency’s capacity to pursue excellence in public participation.
Staff training is central to SFMTA’s strategy to strengthen its relationship with the community. POETS establishes new requirements and higher expectations for public participation across all projects. It also provides a wide variety of resources to employees to empower them to meet the new requirements, including opportunities for education and professional development. Those who take advantage of these opportunities can receive formal recognition and rewards.
A specific benchmark for the agency is that every employee whose job involves community outreach and engagement should complete the IAP2 Foundations of Public Participation course. More than 70 have done so as of mid-2017. SFMTA has seen that those who complete the course feel more confident in the field, are inspired to consider new ways to engage the public in their projects, and are better prepared to consider opportunities for public participation beyond “informing.”
Staff training not only strengthens the skills of individual employees, but it also promotes an organizational culture that values public participation. Staff members know it is central to SFMTA’s mission, agency leadership reinforces this message by investing in staff and acknowledging their effort, and POETS demonstrates to the community that the agency’s commitment to public participation is real.
“Having spent many years in government, I see a common deficit of trust with our public agencies, and I think Core Value 7 contributes to rebuilding that trust.” – Penny Mabie
For this final article about the Core Values, I spoke with Julia Balabanowicz, Jan Bloomfield, Penny Mabie, Joel Mills, and Gay Robinson about the importance of Core Value 7 and how they use Core Values in their daily P2 work.
Core Value 7: Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
What I heard most from the people I interviewed was that this Core Value was an imperative opportunity to build trust that often gets missed. Julia Balabanowicz said “it allows [decision makers] to demonstrate to [the community] the value and purpose of their participation. It shows that you respect the time and energy they took to show up and participate.” While immersed in the middle of designing a new park, extending a sewer system, altering bus system, or developing a new comprehensive plan it’s easy to forget that the public is not thinking about this project every moment of every day.
Time is our most precious commodity and knowledge is power. Are you short on time and want to continue your learning? Choose from a variety of topics ranging from Evaluation and Budgeting to Tool Selection and Social Media as a Tool! You will walk away from these short training modules with real working skills that you can immediately apply to your public participation projects! Not quite sure yet? Here are 5 great reasons you should take advantage of IAP2 USA’s online learning opportunities:
By: Cathy Smith
IAP2 USA Board Member and Chair of the Communications Committee
Think back to Spring 2016. Where were you? Well, if you were an IAP2 USA board member, you were in a hotel conference room making a key decision – to develop a strategic communications plan for our community. We decided to “un-jargon” our own language to make it easy for our clients, participants and the community-at-large to grasp the benefits of quality involvement and to motivate all of us to continually enhance our skills.
Over the course of 2016, your Communications Committee led itself through a thorough planning process. We identified audiences and partners, evaluated our unique place in the marketplace of services and organizations, dove into the underlying concepts of what the organization needs to say now and into the future, and developed messaging that is clear and direct.
Our core message has two parts – both centered on the concept of “good” skills and outcomes:
“Pursuing the greater good: good decisions made together.”
We’re living in “interesting times”, and it might seem especially so for you, a champion of good public participation/community engagement.
Here’s a news flash: YOU’RE NOT ALONE, and here is the perfect opportunity for you to re-charge, share war stories, and get new insights: the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference. These three days in Denver can give you what you need to press forward. Consider: