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:
Two presentations that challenged some of the key principles of P2 were featured in our last “encore” from the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference in Montréal. Dr Mark Szabo looked at the way the “squishy stuff” – emotional responses that are hard to quantify but no less important to consider – can be addressed. Jacques Bénard discussed the collective mindset, questioning whether decisions reached collaboratively are really the best ones.
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
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.
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:
Schedule-at-a-Glance – Student Scholarship – Become a Conference Sponsor!
Register Today! – Learn More
Do you just know that you need to be at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference in Denver in September, but your manager still needs convincing? These Top Five Reasons should help:
- No need to re-invent the wheel – learn from others’ experiences both good and bad. Find out about emerging trends and issues. If you come away with one or two good ideas then you have paid for your conference.
- Skill building. There are so many good and effective ways to do public engagement. Find out what they are and bring them back to your workplace.
- Networking. Have you ever wanted to pick up the phone or send an email to people that have similar ideas or concerns as you do? How about trying out an idea before you pay for it? Meet those colleagues at the Conference, people are happy to learn and share together.
- The conference theme is “P2 for the Greater Good”, and what company doesn’t want to be associated with that.
- Good Public Participation = Good Results
You’ve made the decision to go to the Conference, yeah … now what? Just follow these easy steps:
STEP 1: Register for the Conference (if you’re an IAP2 member from outside the USA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the registration code)
July is coming up fast! Train from anywhere and be surrounded by professionals working to improve their skills and hone their techniques! In the month of July we are offering two UNIQUE training opportunities that will give you real, usable tools and techniques to apply in REAL WORLD situations. Nowhere else will you be able to experience the flexibility and usability of online training, at such an affordable cost!