The Core Values IV: Bonds Built Through Trust

Core Values_Article 4_Twitter_Canada-01

“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.a

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.

Julia B
Julia Balabanowicz

Julia discussed the importance of creating a link between the public’s input and the outcome, especially when the process is long. She’s currently working with a developer on a proposal for a large wind farm project. By deciding early on that the public would get to see the preliminary turbine layouts, they are able to work closely with the community to try to arrive at a socially acceptable layout of the wind turbines that also balances environmental and technical limitations.

Her team is now on version four of the layout, each version responding specifically to based on local input. Following each community meeting, the team tracks how the input received from the public influenced the proceeding turbine layout and that document is made available to anyone in the community, but, most importantly, at each meeting the public gets to see the different versions of the layout so that they can see the impact their participation has had. More than anything, Julia said, “it’s a trust-building exercise with the people you’re working with. And the business case for developers is clear when they understand how this process supports the latter regulatory approval process.”

Gay Robinson

And, as you build that trust, people come to believe in the process. Belief in and ownership of the process is often more important than the outcome. I talked to Gay Robinson and Jan Bloomfield who said that you know the community has bought into the process when they say, “It’s not my solution but I see how you got there.”

Jan Bloomfield

When Gay and Jan were working together on a park master plan, they tied each of the park’s design elements back to comments from the public. “Just as important as showing how you incorporated each of the public’s comments is showing why you didn’t use other comments.” Doing so demonstrates that even ideas that didn’t end up being incorporated were carefully considered.

Penny Mabie
Penny Mabie

As Penny Mabie said, “In the absence of information, people will make up their own stories.” Following through on Core Value 7 creates future credibility. That credibility is the impetus to follow up with the community and show them how their input was used. However, this can be overlooked, because something like building credibility and relationships is hard to quantify, especially in the short-term. “You hear people say the project was a success because it was unopposed. It was a success because a park was build.” But, Penny said, these projects aren’t a one-shot deal. “Those people are always going to be your constituents, your voters, your neighbors, your community. Every time you build credibility, you’re helping develop that more solid relationship.”

Once you build that trust, that credibility, that relationship surprising things can happen. Joel Mills discussed how, after a meaningful process, “people can see their influence and their opportunity to plan a role in the implementation.” The trust and the credibility can lead to a plan where “the future success of the plan doesn’t rest fully on the planners who created it.” The community starts to take charge and the process becomes a catalyst for civic engagement.

Joel Mills

Joel saw this happen during a planning process at Port Angeles. It was the height of the Great Recession, the town had lost a few mills (its traditional employment centers), and a landmark department store had just decided to leave the downtown. One of the big issues was that people would take the ferry from Canada, drive through Port Angeles, and travel on to hike in the Olympics, but they would rarely stop. During this planning process the community became excited about possibilities to create attractions. The plan sparked a new level of civic engagement- within 3 months the community had pulled together, organized dozens of volunteers and donated supplies, and repainted 43 downtown buildings. “The Community Development Director said the biggest benefit of the plan was the pride the process created.”


When I decided to join IAP2, the Core Values were one of the first things I read and they really resonated with me. But, as I’ve done these interviews and written this series of articles, I’ve come to see that they are one of the most important resources I can pull out of my toolbox on a daily basis. They are simple and pragmatic in a way that an organization’s core values rarely are. Julia, Gay, Jan, Penny, and Joel all said that the Core Values are something they use and return to regularly.

Here are a couple ways these practitioners use the Core Values in their daily P2 work:

  • As a tool to share with clients
  • As a checklist when creating a public participation plan
  • To evaluate a P2 process
  • As language for discussing what good P2 looks like

I hope this series has increased your enthusiasm for the Core Values and helped you think about how they apply to the work you do every day.


This article is the fourth and final article in a series about the Core Values. If you missed the earlier ones you can check them out at the links below:

Article 1: IAP2 Core Values – The Origin Story

Article 2: How to Hit the P2 Sweet Spot

Article 3: Being a Stranger in a Strange Land

Do you have a Core Values story to share? Please tell us about it here! 


Chapter News – Summer 2017

St Lawrence/Saint-Laurent

The first “Third Tuesday” of the fall season will take place in Ottawa, Tuesday, Sept. 19. Tim Bouma of the Government of Canada’s Chief Information Officer Branch will lead a discussion on “A Made-in-Canada Approach to Digital Identity”.

Digital services need to know who we are – that is, our digital identity. What was once viewed as a simple username and password has now evolved into our ongoing digital presence that promises to provide us with efficiency and convenience.

How we approach digital identity as a country can be fraught with privacy issues, security implications, and how we interact as a society at large. This presentation will provide an insight on the Canadian perspective on digital identity – from the public and private sector perspective.

This Third Tuesday runs from 6 – 8:30 pm (registration is at 5) at the Red Lion on Clarence Street in Ottawa. Tickets are $10 for the general public, and IAP2 Members and members of the Government of Canada Community of Practice get in free.

Get tickets here.


Nominations are being taken for this year’s Donald Golob Award. The award is named for Don Golob, who was one of the founders of IAP2 BC and a past-president; he passed away in 2015 at the age of 60.

The award is presented to a person who makes a great contribution to IAP2 BC. Find more information here. Nominations close October 1.

The BC Chapter 2017 Annual General Meeting will take place Wednesday, Nov. 22, 6 – 8 pm, in the Royal Bank Room at the YWCA, 733 Beatty Street.

P2 Support from Decision-Makers – the latest IAP2 White Paper!

The third White Paper commissioned by the IAP2 Research Committee is now available. In this, Colleen Gareau reviews Decision-Maker Support for P2. In particular, she looks at the work done by the City of Edmonton to ensure the public is involved in decisions that affect them – and the buy-in required from elected officials and staff.

Read the White Paper here.

Read other IAP2 Canada White Papers:

Challenges and Advancements in Evaluating P2 (by Karen Zypchyn)

Conflict Management in P2 (by Kate Nelischer)





From the Board – Summer 2017

sarah-rivest (1)Sarah Rivest, Secretary

Bienvenue and welcome!

Many thanks to the members who were able to join our AGM online on June 14. The meeting was a chance to review all of the good that IAP2 Canada was a part of in 2016, including the treasurer’s report, membership highlights and also a look ahead to 2017. It was great to have representatives from Coast to Coast participate and I found it nice to reflect on the current projects and plans to support professionals in public participation.

We took the time to thank the significant contributions from the following departing board members:

Jan Bloomfield

Noreen Rude

Tracy Vaughan

Jorge Aviles

During the meeting, the nominating committee announced the acclamation for Board Members and on behalf of the board would like to warmly welcome:

New Board Members (2017-2020)

Hugo Mimee (Québec) – second term

Dhurata Ikonomi (Ontario)

Kevin Thorvaldson (Alberta)

Mark Weir (Ontario)

New Deputy Board Members

Sheri Florizone (Prairies)

Samantha Thompson (Ontario)

Returning to the board for 2017 will be:

Continuing Board Members

Bruce Gilbert (Newfoundland)

Amanda Mitchell (British Columbia)

Brenda Pichette (Ontario)

Ashleigh Weeden (Ontario)

Sarah Rivest (Québec)

Michael Waters (British Columbia)

Continuing Deputy Board Members

Kristen Farrell (Ontario)

Morgan Boyco (Ontario)

It is truly wonderful to see a mix of provinces represented on the board, and also to have a mix of new and continuing Board Members. Many projects take years to come to fruition and it’s great for the strategy of these important projects to include different experiences. I’m excited to meet our new board at the next face to face meeting after the North American conference in Denver in September, at which time all executive positions will be nominated and elected.

If you would like more information about the AGM including links to read the 2016 Annual Report, to watch the AGM webinar, or to view the PowerPoint presentation from the AGM, please click here.

Best wishes for a great summer!


Webinar Rewind: Montreal Encore – “Is Your Organization P2-Centric?” (July 2017)

It’s true that many organizations – private corporations and public agencies alike – are incorporating Public Participation into their practices, but there is another step they can take: becoming P2-Centric.

Our July Webinar brought another of the popular sessions from the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference in Montreal: Anne Pattillo’s “Is Your Organization P2-Centric?” To Anne, a P2-Centric organization (P2CO) is one that “puts citizens as the main stakeholder of their decision-making, thinking, planning and action.” Does that describe your organization? And if not, how do you get it there?

Anne contends that organizations see the importance of P2 as a reputation-enhancer, but it’s important to move from that negative-inference mindset to one where the organization is always on top of citizen attitudes and aspirations and makes that the centrepiece of its work.  In Anne’s research, the typical organizational P2 journey is the way it looks below and often organizations get stuck with pockets of good practice.

WEBINAR - 2017-07-11 - P2CENTRIC

Doing that involves from good practice to a portfolio of public participation, in which resources are constantly available to sustain that practice. When that happens, P2 has its greatest impact. What’s more, it’s been found that if good P2 is delivered only occasionally, its impact is limited. Getting maximum impact requires consistently delivering quality P2 across the organization. For the practitioner, that means:

  • Disciplined evaluation and reporting P2 processes and impactWEBINAR - 2017-07-11 - P2CENTRIC-stitched
  • Focusing leaders on it so they can see what if any communities are being “missed” in the process
  • Building capability, systems, policies into the organization so P2 is integrated into the organization’s work – “Stitched into the lining,” as Anne puts it
  • Getting commitment from the organization to continue with that P2 framework
  • Pro-actively reaching out to citizens about their experience and expectation with the organization.

The onus is on the practitioners to make it happen in the organization: to discuss with the leaders the goals they have and impress on them the importance of incorporating P2 as a cornerstone of the process, rather than an after-thought. It requires bringing P2 into alignment with the organization’s strategy and priorities and also working with the organizational and key community leaders to help find the place the organization is expected to play in that community.

Measuring that impact can take any of a number of forms: looking at the organization’s “brand presence” in the community, or looking at the level of trust and confidence and the level of participation in the community, impact on the decisions and actions or the organization, relationship development. How much is the community’s voice heard in the organization?


A good example is New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. For years, it had been engaging with the public, but it was sporadic – Anne describes it as a case of “good people doing good things but only occasionally.” The organization had to examine its internal processes and that led to the question of what was really important to the Department and setting an overall goal. The leaders of the organization realized that achieving that goal meant increasing the P2 capability and making sure it had the proper resources. The Department became, in short, P2-centric.

IAP2 members can hear the entire webinar and download some resources Anne has provided here.

Meet a Member: Jacquie Dale

Jacquie headshotPosition: founder, One World, Inc.

As we continue to mark 25 years since the first conference of what is now IAP2, we meet Jacquie Dale, who has been with IAP2 since 1997.

What has been your involvement with P2?

My early days of public engagement grew out of work in foreign policy and how to engage Canadians in meaningful conversation about it. It began in the early 80s, through development education (dev-ed). As part of their international cooperation work in Canada, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) always tended to have programs to help the Canadian public understand development and think about global citizenship. I started doing dev-ed in 1983 when I worked with the YM/YWCA in Victoria.

I worked on a lot of projects, running seminars and programming for youth and children, as well as cross-Canada exchange programs with youth. Then I moved to Montréal to lead the international development program at the YMCA there, and covered projects and exchanges in Central America, Tanzania and Ecuador.

Over time, I got interested in the issue of foreign policy and when I went to work for the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) – the umbrella organization for Canadian NGOs working in international cooperation – we asked, how do we engage the Canadian public in meaningful conversations about shaping Canada’s foreign policy?

In 1995, the Federal Government made significant cuts to international development funding, and we were surprised given the years of dev ed in Canada, that there was no public outcry about the cuts. Why was so little importance placed on international development? So, we set up a task force that went across the country, talking to NGOs, volunteers, experts and involved communities; and we realized that our approach had been a bit too proselytizing. We had talked about human rights and social justice, but in a way, that was more preaching (“if you have the right information, you’ll think the ‘right’ way, i.e. our way, about this”), than engagement.

So around 1997, we started to play around with the idea of deliberative dialogue (DD) (also called deliberation). I took part in a Kettering Institute training program. We started with a small pilot – a series of dialogues focused on poverty eradication.

From that, we went across the country, training people in facilitating deliberative dialogue on foreign policy and development issues and bringing the results to various policy tables. Many people were excited about it and became good facilitators, but others found becoming an objective facilitator on issues they were very passionate about just didn’t work for them. I also worked closely with the Canadian Policy Research Network at that time. They were also piloting DD, but on domestic issues, e.g. “The society we want”. This shared learning approach for how to use deliberative dialog proved to be fruitful – and exciting.

During that period, our work at CCIC gained recognition and won two national awards. People started to ask us to do this deliberative dialogue work for them, so we set up One World, Inc. It was originally owned by CCIC, with myself as the CEO and we ran dialogues for NGOs, governments, not-for-profits. It was “deep engagement”. When the CCIC had its funding from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) cut, I and three associates of the firm purchased it. Since then our work at One World Inc has expanded to include all types of public and stakeholder engagement.

What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

I joined IAP3 – now IAP2 – because I was interested in finding out what others were doing in public engagement and how to engage the public in a more meaningful and better way. It was a good opportunity to learn from others and make connections. IAP2 was also a good way to connect with others in the US and elsewhere in the world for mutual learning.

Something that I was very interested in from the early days was evaluation. We as a P2 community have to get better and be more consistent at evaluating engagement processes and as a consulting firm, we do a lot of work to assess the impact and results of public engagement (PE).

What “big wins” have you had?

I think pioneering deliberative dialogue in Canada was one of them. Back when I started, the word dialogue was not nearly so common as it is today (even though it is often mis-used, the notion has gained currency). The idea of good, meaningful conversations that can impact program and policy choices has grown substantially and I like to think I played a small part in that.

Another win has been in the area of pushing forward good citizen engagement – the idea that citizens need to be engaged on important questions their communities and societies are dealing with. For example, we’ve worked with the city of Edmonton on two citizen panels. The first was around the budgetary process, which was a demonstration project that helped to consolidate the foundation of the Centre for Public Involvement. The second was on energy and climate challenges facing the city, and new policies emerged from those discussions that were accepted by the City Council. I did that project with Alberta Climate Dialogue, which worked with government and civil society partners to convene citizen deliberations on climate change in Alberta -possibly the last province where one would expect that to happen.  A new book on that experiment is coming out this fall.

I facilitate the Citizens’ Council of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, which began in 2009, again contributing to policy particularly in the area of the public drug program. We do a lot of work in the health field, where patient engagement has been on the rise. We’ve just finished working on a patient engagement guide for the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. It was a real co-design project with groups across the country, including patients themselves.

How has P2 in Canada changed since you first started?

Hugely. When I started, we didn’t have any online platforms – there was no technology at the time. In the late 90s, I started working with a group to develop an online platform, because there was nothing that moved beyond the traditional survey. That aspect has been evolving continually, complementing face-to-face participation.

Of course, there was no social media, either, and that’s changed the landscape. Considering the ways people use it, this change has been both positive and negative.

And as I said, the rise in patient engagement has been remarkable. We see now how seriously it’s being taken and how it’s being integrated into the operation of the health care system – not just a tick-off-the-box engagement, but something meaningful that is improving health care  I’ve also worked with organizations involved in health research, like the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, which is stimulating a process across the country in patient-oriented research.

The big thing is, governments at all levels are more serious about P2, and there are some real leaders at a municipal level.  Federally, P2 has tended to come and go, with the current phase being an increased interest. Health Canada had an Office of Consumer and Public Involvement, which got cut the same day it won an award for its high-quality work.  The Consultation Secretariat at the headquarters level of Health Canada changed from a capacity-building focus to stakeholder relations but is now trying once more to improve engagement practice. Other areas of government have taken it on, too, but it’s still a struggle to build and maintain the internal capacity (and infrastructure) for good P2.

Internationally, some of the global bodies are also increasing their involvement. But there’s something else to note for those in the consulting world. In the past five years or so, the big consulting firms have been getting interested in that area and have been taking on more and more P2 work. In some cases, the way they’ve done that is by buying up PE companies, like Hill + Knowlton did with Ascentum. It’s an indication that P2 is getting integrated into their work and is gaining important recognition that it is a field of expertise. It also means it can be tougher for independent consultants and smaller “boutique” firms, because the big companies already have their connections with governments and private sector.

Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment” – when something went sideways, but you learned from it?

I’ve always thought of P2 as a social change ingredient for participatory democracy. As citizens, we need to have spaces to dig into and work through together the tough choices facing our communities and society in today’s world. DD and PE can help to provide those opportunities to engage across perspectives and potentially develop common ground to move forward. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with others who share this dream – for example, the Canadian Community of Dialogue and Deliberation and the National Coalition for Deliberative Dialogue (NCDD).

But sometimes organized citizen action and advocacy groups work against the idea of P2, even though they value democratic values such as freedom of expression. One example I lived through occurred in a community engagement process around a proposed addition to an existing plant in the town. A strong environmental group was opposed to it.

We set up a process to allow people to talk in small groups and meet with experts to ask questions. The first part of the day went well. But when we broke for lunch, the environmental group decided they didn’t want the process to work and didn’t want the public to really discuss the issues for themselves. So, they came back in the afternoon with the goal of shutting the process down. Other citizens had good questions to ask, and this group shut them up with name-calling. It was a source of disappointment that an environmental group that should be interested in citizen engagement created such an ugly situation.  For me it highlights the “shadow” side of citizen action and advocacy. Perhaps another approach, where the group had been invited to co-design the process might have worked, but at the core I think their only interest was in stopping the development project, no matter the cost in social capital.

This level of animosity was new to me as I have found working primarily in Canada that people are for the most part willing to listen and consider alternative viewpoints and perspectives if given a well-structured and facilitated process. The polarization has been so much stronger in the US and NCDD (National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation) has had to work out how to deal with antagonistic stakeholders and create that safe space for dialogue.

Where do you see the P2 profession going, in the future?

I would flag three things as I think about the future of our collective P2 work:

  1. Over the next few years, we need to build more sustainable P2 capacity and infrastructure within institutions like government. Otherwise PE will not be integrated into the program and policy development and instead will remain primarily in the hands of consultants. Edmonton is a promising example of a city where this is beginning to happen. See for example, the Council Initiative on PE.
  2. A key tension in all of our work, and which we have to keep on the forefront, is depth/breadth for engagement. (Another term is thick/thin.) Because we have social media and online tools, we have a tendency to gravitate towards “thin” engagement – for example, getting lots of people to answer a survey. Governments like it because you get manageable quantitative data fairly quickly, but does little to help policy-makers understand where citizens arrive if they have a chance for informed discussion to work through together the possible choices and the trade-offs incumbent in these. We need to figure out how to better balance those two, to develop policy that really resonates with citizens and that encourages us all to step up to our responsibility to be active in that process.
  3. Finally, I think as a P2 community we need to think more deeply about the issue of power in the work that we do, and I include in that our “hidden” power as process designers, issue framers and facilitators. Our role can influence discussion and outcomes and we need to be aware of that and work to try to provide objective processes as much as possible. For more on that, see a recent paper I had to chance to write with an academic colleague.

If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

It’s a very interesting and exciting area to work in: you become a bit of a renaissance person, because you learn a lot about many different topics. There’s more opportunity than there ever was, with patient engagement and municipal and provincial governments integrating engagement into their work: it makes for more scope for more people.

The Core Values Story – 3: A Stranger in a Strange Land

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— by Lauren Wirtis, IAP2 USA Intern

“You have to recognize that you are a visitor into someone else’s space.”

– Jessica Delaney, IAP2 Federation Trainer

Core Value 5: Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.

Core Value 6: Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.

Core Values 5 and 6 remind P2 practitioners that everywhere they go in their profession, they are the outsider. When talking to Jessica Delaney, Mary Hamel, and Cheryl Hilvert, the action they spoke most about in terms of these two Core Values was asking questions. What I learned from them and their stories was how to be a good visitor, who maybe might just get invited back. From what I can tell there are three good rules of thumb:

  1. Don’t assume anything
  2. Ask questions and take the answers seriously
  3. Speak the language

Don’t Assume Anything

Mary Hamel

It is easy to project our own behaviors onto others. I find x, y, or z comfortable, so everyone else must as well. This can get you into trouble quickly as a visitor. Mary Hamel was able to think quick on her feet in order to avoid this exact issue. She was asked to step into a project as a facilitator in a Wisconsin community that had gone through a contentious mining proposal soon before. She had heard that the community did not like being split into small groups, because they felt like it was a divide and conquer strategy. However, that had been the meeting process the project managers wanted to run as there were about 150 attendees. As Mary began the facilitation the group reacted to the idea of being split up. Prepared for this, Mary worked with her team to reorganize the meeting. To the community being split up was about distrust, and the fact that Mary’s team was willing to rearrange their process help to build that trust back.


Ask questions and take the answers seriously

Jessica Delaney

When I talked with Jessica about Core Value 5, she said it “calls on practitioner to be humble in knowledge and experience with process design.” She described two ways to look to implement Core Value 5. First, you can hold a series of stakeholder interviews. These questions should give power to the interviewee to answer however they choose. Some of the questions Jessica likes to ask include:


  • What’s of interest to you in this decision?
  • What’s going to make it easier for you to engage?
  • What info do you need to engage?
  • What barriers do you have to engaging?
  • What don’t I know that I need to know?

Second, you can embed stakeholders into an engagement planning committee or team. Jessica took part in a committee design workshop on opioid substance use that invited patients into the planning team, asked them how to make participants more comfortable, and shaped the process around their input. “They helped us understand that there are many different patient voices going through different journeys. We needed to understand that we were not serving patient populations but a lot patients within a population.”

One practical example was that many people recovering from opioid addiction used methamphetamines to help in the process. The use of methamphetamines raises the core body temperature. Jessica and her team kept the room colder than usual to ensure that participants would be physically comfortable during the workshop. This was just one of many insights the patients on the planning team provided. Other advice provided on the engagement design level included timing for breaks, location, and special requirements for those in the program.

Speak the language

Cheryl Hilvert

Another way practitioners can seem foreign to the communities they enter is with the language they use. Talking about the MX-II zone or Bill HDC-4739J can be alienating. Cheryl talked with me about how important it is to her to take a bit of time to explain the project and the terms that were going to be used in the discussion. Make people feel like they are equipped to participate and provide a sense of self-efficacy.


One way Cheryl did this on a larger scale was to create a citizens leadership academy, a 10-week program to provide education to citizens about the community they live in. The program educated participants on how government is structured, how decisions get made, the highest tax generating businesses, how economic development is organized, and the purpose of community development. Each class consisted of 25 students. Cheryl and her team went out of their way to invite people who weren’t typically supportive of the city.

Cheryl said the best outcome was that community members were now armed with information out in the community helping other citizens understand what was happening in their city. These people became ambassadors in the community. They went on to conduct their own independent citizen education around initiatives in the community. This program empowered people to take what can seem like a foreign language and bring it home.

It’s not enough to put the information up on a website or send out a press release when the community needs to be involved. P2 practitioners have a responsibility to learn how people want to be engaged and then reach out to provide the information they need to do just that. Mary embodied this philosophy in what may be my new favorite quote:

“Telling people the information is on the website is kind of like telling people it’s somewhere in the Library of Congress.”


This article is the third in a series of articles about the Core Values. Keep an eye out for the next article in upcoming newsletters.

Do you have a Core Values story to share? Please tell us about it here!

Many thanks again to those who spent time talking with me.