ATTN: NEPA Update: Here is your opportunity to be part of Pursuing the Greater Good

Call to Action: The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is asking for public comment as it is considering an update to its procedural provisions of 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. We are asking you to be a part of “Pursuing the Greater Good” and to advocate for “Good Decisions Made Together” by providing your public comment.

Background: President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law on January 1, 1970. Its passage established a new policy of environmental protection and transparency in government. For any federal action that will have significant environmental impacts, NEPA requires federal agencies to define a range of reasonable courses of action, including a “no action” or baseline alternative, evaluate the likely impacts of each of those alternatives, and share the results of that analysis with the public. While it has never been interpreted as obligating the government to pursue the most environmentally benign action, NEPA made the government’s decisions open to public scrutiny. The law also provided for the formation of the Council on Environmental Quality. Sec. 2 [42 U.S. Code § 4321].

Timing: Given the length of time since its NEPA implementing regulations were issued, CEQ is required to solicit public comment on potential revisions and you have an important voice. No other organization with its members and friends is better poised to contribute and advise on the update of these regulations.

Your voice is important and should be heard. But you only have until July 20th to make a difference!

Next Steps:

  1. Review the announcement
  2. Draft your reply. Need inspirations? Consider the following:
  3. Contribute to the conversation by submitting your comments online

Please pass this opportunity along to your interested colleagues. Share your posts on our Facebook pageLinkedIn and/or Twitter using #goodp2matters. Take a stand – this IS something you can do!

Here is your opportunity to be part of
Pursuing the Greater Good: Good Decisions Made Together.

May Learning Webinar: “Our Community Could Blow Up. Do We Have Time for some Quick Consultation?”

Robbie Burns’ famous prayer was for protection from “things that go ‘bump’ in the night”, but in October 2012, near Shreveport, Louisiana, it was no “bump”. It was a colossal explosion, and no one immediately knew the cause. When the cause – and the planned solution – were discovered, it touched off a different kind of fireworks.

The cause was millions of pounds of M6 explosive – the propellent used to fire large guns, like tank guns and heavy artillery – which had been stored at Camp Minden National Guard Base. It was too old to be any use – and highly unstable. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other responsible agencies planned to burn the explosives in the open – considered “best practice”. The community had other thoughts on the matter and in the social and political melee that followed, Kristi Parker Celico and Doug Sarno, MCP3, were called in to facilitate public consultation sessions to find an alternative.

Except they didn’t have the luxury of time.

BOOMThe military repeatedly reminded everyone that another major explosion could happen at any moment.

So how did Kristi and Doug manage to marshal the military, the environmental experts, the community members, the activists and the various government agencies (none of whom wanted the responsibility) and come up with a solution? The May webinar – a reprise of their presentation at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference – is revealing, inspiring and at times hilarious (in its own macabre way) as we learn how two experienced professionals took charge of the situation and quickly but methodically brought in a solution before something else went “ka-BOOM!” in the night.

IAP2 members can watch the webinar here. (The IAP2 Webinar Archive is a benefit exclusive to members of IAP2 USA.)

April Learning Webinar: Core Values Award Winners – project categories Part 2

USA: Tennessee Department of Transportation – General Project Award for “Long Range Transportation Plan”

Tanisha & Gov Haslam

Every five years, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has to produce a 25-year long-range transportation plan, and with 6.5 million people — a third of whom live in rural areas — to serve, the challenge is to make sure public money is spent in the best way possible. Complicating matters is the sudden in-migration of people: ever since Nashville was designated an “It” city by the New York Times, 100 people move there per day.

By 2013, transportation infrastructure projects had fallen behind to the tune of $6 billion, so the problem was clear: how to come up with a plan that Tennesseans could stand behind. Tanisha Hall — TDOT’s Director of Long-Range Planning — and her staff had to reach urban and rural areas with the same message, be consistent with the outreach efforts, build input that would directly influence the decisions, and define and target traditionally underserved sectors of the population.

The tools and techniques included regional summits, focus groups and “Book-a-Planner” Outreach, where staff would take the message to local groups. They took the message to places where people traditionally met, such as Rotary and Chamber of Commerce meetings, giving people the straight goods on the challenges TDOT was facing; they questioned the people interactively on what their transportation priorities were.

Tanisha explains that they learned quite a few valuable lessons about engagement: make sure that an engagement plan is an integral part of the plan; be flexible; think through the entire process ahead of time and identify potential obstacles; and make it enjoyable.

So successful was the outreach, that towards the end of the process, Governor Bill Haslam (centre, above; looking toward Tanisha) used Tanisha’s engagement process at some of the events, which led to the legislature passing a gas tax increase to fund transportation infrastructure and TDOT won the IAP2 USA Core Values Award — General Project.


CANADA: LAWS (Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society) and Beringia Community Planning, Indigenous Engagement Award for “Youth4Safety”

Tackling the problem of violence against Indigenous women and girls in a small northern community, and making sure as many voices as possible were heard in developing a long-range, multi-modal transportation plan, were the last two Core Values Award winners featured in our monthly webinars.

In addressing a problem of sexualized violence against Aboriginal women and girls, an initiative named Youth4Safety spearheaded by the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society (LAWS) and supported by Beringia Community Planning won the IAP2 Canada Award for Indigenous Engagement. The groups determined to make the plan local to the community, so it was relevant at all points, and to empower youth, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

DSC_9313

There are numerous barriers when it comes to engaging young people. Lack of interest is one, as is an inability of decision-makers to see the value in engaging young people; perhaps an even bigger barrier is the lack of meaningful roles for youth. The Youth4Safety project set out to overcome all of those.

Beringia’s Sarah Gillett says decision-makers often underestimate the ability of young people to contribute to a process; but in this case, they were given the key role. The project presented educational tools to help youth deal with sexualized violence, but the project also drew on the local culture and the experiences of the young people, themselves, all while ensuring the safety needed for youth to participate. They were empowered to apply what they learned in designing an awareness campaign and then share their work with the broader community.

No fewer than 16 agencies collaborated on the project, including LAWS, the RCMP, local tribal justice departments, the local high school and drug and alcohol counselling services. A unique feature of the process was that it was based in local Kaska culture, focusing on peer support, a system designed by youth for youth, and dene à nezen, which is a Kaska term to describe “dignity and respect”.

While the long term impact of their work is still to be understood, an evaluation of Youth4Safety has identified the following results to date:

For the participating youth:

  •         An ability to describe the issues relating to sexualized violence (such as gender, social responses, racism, mental health)
  •         An increased willingness and comfort talking about sexualized violence
  • An ability to identify concrete actions they can take to respond to violence against women and girls
  • An increase in concrete skills they can use to get involved in taking action on issues of sexualized violence (such as campaigning, communication, using the media)
  • Increased sense of connection among Youth – provided a network Youth trust to approach with sexualized violence issues, potential to provide support for Youth victims of sexualized violence
  • Increased confidence and self-efficacy – being a part of this team gave Youth an opportunity to build their confidence and recognize their ability to build a safer community
  • Building a stronger support network – more aware of resources, community organizations, and a network of people who care about sexualized violence against women and can help

For the broader community:

  •         Increased knowledge about violence against women and girls, the extent of the issue and the impact on Youth
  •         Increased appreciation for the knowledge Youth have on the topic of sexualized violence and the role they can play in raising awareness on this issue

 

 

Raise Your Hand for Good P2 – introducing the IAP2 USA Ambassador Program!

By: Stacee Adams, Ambassador Program Coordinator

Stacee AdamsA few years ago, a colleague and I presented about public participation to a group of public sector communication professionals. To kick things off, we referenced IAP2 Core Value One, “public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process” and asked how many attendees agreed that the public does indeed have this right. Five people raised their hands. Out of 60. 

Cultural Links and Mobilizing Volunteers in P2 – The 2018 North American Conference

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What happens when your city’s growth suddenly explodes and new initiatives demand public participation? “Engagement fatigue” and staff burnout follow — that’s what. The city of Austin, Texas, has seen its population grow over the last decade to the tune of 100 people per day, and the situation has not been helped by often vitriolic divisions of opinion.

The solution? The Conversation Corps: a team of trained volunteer facilitators, dedicated to promoting civil dialogue and pushing the envelope of P2 best practices. We’re excited to welcome folks from Austin with P2 is a Team Sport, the story of their five-year journey. You’ll get some on-the-ground insights on promoting a culture of civil discourse and how to work with other agencies to grow a P2 culture.

Vancouver, BC, is famous for its Chinatown, but that historic community has felt itself in danger of being swallowed up by the rapid growth of the city. Public processes have failed to be inclusive, leading to distrust and loss of community support for projects and plans.

In Inclusive Engagement with Vancouver’s Chinatown, Miranda Eng of Context Research will share their recent collaborative work with community members from Vancouver’s Chinatown to co-create a model to guide culturally respectful planning and design of engagement processes.

Those are two of nearly 30 sessions, plus workshops, panel discussions and field trips at the 2018 IAP2 North American Conference, Sept. 5 – 7 in Victoria, BC. Read more about the Conference and take a look at the Schedule-at-a-Glance to see what’s on offer.

Watch for more news about the conference and the events you can look forward to, and follow #iap2nac18 on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Remember: register on or before June 30, and take advantage of the early-bird registration rates! And book your room soon at one of our three partner hotels: they’ll be going fast!

Webinar Rewind: Digital Engagement Panel

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 CROZIER-2Matt: 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.”

Webinar Rewind – “Denver Encore: Beginning with the Brain in Mind”

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”.

carcasson - books
Lots of books have been written on the subject

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.

Call for Session Proposals!

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!

Do you want to be a certified Public Participation Professional? Apply now and save money!

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.

Make your way to the 2018 Skills Symposium!

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 SymposiumFeb. 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!