From the Board — May 2017

KRISTEN FARRELL

Kristen Farrell – Deputy Board member

As a young professional and a new deputy member of the Board, I have been reflecting on the role of IAP2 and my experience on the Board not only for my personal career development but also in the larger community. P2 is a fairly new concept to me, though I understood it long before I realized it had a proper name and associated best practices.

When I entered the professional world, I was initially baffled that organizations and government would not want to get the public to participate in the decisions that would affect them. If you had asked me 5 years ago what I thought of a small number of people making decisions affecting communities without consulting their residents, I would have thought it was a silly question. I soon learned that it is often a struggle to convince those organizations to engage the public at all, let alone in a meaningful way.

During the short time I’ve been on the board, I have met and worked with a number of people who are incredibly passionate about P2 and about ensuring that best practices are followed. The P2 profession and its practitioners are a remarkable group; P2 professionals focus on creating an open and deliberative process that allows participants to really be heard and their voiced concerns genuinely considered. The Canadian Board of Directors embodies this. The passion and enthusiasm I have felt from working with a group of committed P2 professionals gives me hope that we will continue to work towards our common goal of increasing visibility of P2 and encouraging it as more than just a “check-the-box” exercise.

My understanding of P2 has increased ten-fold since becoming a Deputy Board member. Members of IAP2 truly want the profession to flourish, and there are numerous resources and a supportive group of people who are rooting for you as you plan and implement your P2 projects. Public participation means so much more than just checking a box and moving on. People want to be engaged and involved. The ideas, collaboration, and passion that can come from asking people for their input and concerns can be tremendously eye-opening. Public participation is certainly more than just talking to people about their thoughts; it’s about finding ways to engage them so they feel they are really being heard and their input will be considered.

So, where do we go from here? In a time when P2 practitioners typically slow down through the summer, let’s keep the conversation going! Get out there and talk to your colleagues about P2 and how to do it effectively. Tell them the benefits and promote all the amazing resources (and people!) of IAP2. Live your belief that meaningful public engagement can truly make a difference in the world, our lives, and our communities.

I hope as the natural world around us reawakens it gives you motivation to keep the discussion going, listening as much as you share information.

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