Webinar Rewind, April 2017: Core Values Award Winners – “Creativity and Innovation” and “P2 for the Greater Good”

It’s a conversation that is difficult at the best of times: what one’s health-care wishes are, around the end of life. How do you know what someone’s wishes are, if they can’t speak for themselves any longer?

CEAN – the Community Engagement Advisory Network at the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority – tackled the problem with a unique, peer-led approach, bringing the patients themselves into the conversation. For that, CEAN won the 2016 IAP2 Canada Core Values Award for P2 for the Greater Good.

VCHCEAN is a group of community volunteers that advises VCH on planning and delivering health-care services, coming from the perspective of the patient or family member. The idea of Advance Care Planning started over a decade ago, and in 2010, members of the VCH Senior Leadership Team, Board and CEAN held a public forum on ACP. Two major themes emerged: the importance of the public talking to the public, and the importance of conversation.

According to Pat Porterfield of CEAN, the number of legal forms that have to be filled out can cause one to get bogged down in that aspect and miss the importance of talking to one’s family and friends about those wishes. It was equally important to have people talking to people, because some of the members of the forum noted that there could be skepticism of the role or motives of the Health Authority leading the discussion.

Some were concerned that the Authority could be seen as having an ulterior motive – like controlling health-care costs. Forum participants also noted that it would be important for members of the public to hear “testimonies”, as it were, from others who had had those conversations with their families and friends. It was necessary, then, for VCH to be seen to be supporting the initiative, but that it be driven by members of the public: it’s the conversation that’s important.

The main requirement for volunteers taking part in this project is passion for helping people have this conversation and often, the facilitators have personal experiences: they may have had an advance-care conversation in their own lives, or there hadn’t been such a conversation and they wished that there had.

Each facilitator develops their own workshop, but the team works together very collaboratively; supporting one another emotionally, and when developing and reviewing materials for the public.

Each workshop ends with an evaluation, and feedback has been very positive: whether workshop attendees are looking for help in making their own plans or to have the conversation with a loved one, they feel they understand the process better and are more capable of making decisions as a result.

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VAN NESS

Van Ness Avenue is the “spine” of San Francisco – a part of Highway 101 – but it’s fallen into disrepair in recent decades. It runs past City Hall and cultural organizations like the ballet and the opera. It’s one of the densest transportation corridors in the city. As a piece of the city’s history, it was used as a fire-break in the Great Fire of 1906 – most of the east side of Van Ness burned up, and what was on the west side was more or less protected.

When it came time to upgrade the thoroughfare – sidewalk-to-sidewalk, from fifteen feet below the surface to 30 feet above — the city brought together various agencies – including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) – to put the Van Ness Improvement Project together. Lulu Feliciano, SFMTA’s Outreach Manager, says that may be the more efficient way of doing things, but it also meant major inconvenience for the people living and working along that stretch.

SFMTA

SFMTA had already recognized the key principle of IAP2: that people affected by a decision have a right to a voice in that decision, and with such a wide range of interests to cover, the agency had to go beyond more traditional methods to reach them.

SFMTA took pre-construction surveys, using hard copies, online surveys and door-to-door visits, asking people about their conceptions of the noise, parking issues and other inconveniences regarding construction in their area. This direct consultation helped cultivate relationships with the neighbours.

These data – collected from 85 percent of businesses and residential properties – were shared with the contractors in developing a construction strategy and sequence that addressed residents’ concerns such as traffic circulation and parking. SFMTA also learned about specific business needs that had not been considered before, and a Business Advisory Committee was set up to deal with those specific needs. That committee has had direct access to project staff and has helped develop strategies to help businesses through the impactful construction of the project. Some of the tools developed with the committee include a Construction Survival Guide packed with information for businesses, as well as a campaign to discourage double parking on the corridor.

A series of walking tours helped show the public what the existing conditions were and what would be improved through the project.

A key challenge SFMTA faced was one many practitioners face: getting past “the usual suspects”. They found they had been hearing from the same people they heard in other projects, and they knew they needed to find other ways of reaching out. They learned, for example, from the City of Chicago’s experience, that setting up a text messaging system to create a two-way conversation was vital. This tool was especially helpful in engaging younger audiences. Among other things, these updates involved keeping people informed on when they could give input on specific aspects of the project.

The text surveys were not just in English, but also in Spanish, Chinese and Filipino. So far almost a thousand have responded; SFMTA is reaching the goal of including new voices as 60 percent indicated they were unfamiliar with the Van Ness Improvement Project and 79 percent opted into the text messaging conversation.

SFMTA made extensive use of texting through the GovDelivery platform. They also learned a lot about the limitations of the system – such as, the fact that it did not allow for people who indicated they did not know about the Van Ness Improvement Project to automatically receive updates on the project. SFMTA Public Relations Assistant Sean Cronin says that makes it important to continue pushing information out to people who responded and cultivate relationships that way.

Here are some of the resources SFMTA used:

Textizen Knowledge Base

Three tips for writing a great survey hook

Gallery of outreach materials

Five tips for Creating an Effective Outreach Poster

Construction of the Van Ness Improvement Project began late last year and is expected to continue through 2019. As construction progresses, the team will expand on its pre-construction efforts to foster relationships with the public and continue to be good stewards of the neighborhood.

IAP2 members can hear the entire webinar here.

Meet a Member – April 2017

Donna Kell-6NAME Donna Kell

POSITION – Manager of Communications – City of Burlington ON

How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked? – I’m a communications practitioner – that’s been my occupation for 15 years … before that I was a print journalist with the Guelph Mercury and some other community papers in southern Ontario. I’m accredited in PR and I’m about to go after my Certification with IAP2.

What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

It came through my work in PR. I was at a Public Relations conference in Calgary and during a community relations session, one of the presenters showed the IAP2 Spectrum. That was the first time I realized that there were all sorts of ways to engage with people and that there was a specific formula and path. I was working in Brampton at the time, and when I got back, I shared the Spectrum with everybody I knew. In 2007, I made the move to Burlington and encouraged everyone here to get involved with IAP2.

There was also an external group in Burlington that was promoting engagement, and in 2010 they came forward to ask for more engagement in the community. With them, we worked out the Community Engagement Charter. We at the City had already begun training people in P2 – staff and residents – and members of council and senior management took P2 for Leaders. So in 2012, we finalized the Community Engagement Charter.

What kind of staff do you use for P2 in Burlington?

Most of the Communications team that I lead has been trained in P2, and that includes the designers. Traditionally, the creative staff are not asked to consider it, but we encourage them to think about how to engage people when they’re designing something. When we launched our new website, it was the two web designers leading the team who came up with the best ideas for how to engage people via the website. All in all, we’ve developed a culture of engagement here. I recommend including P2 as part of communications and also that staff share success stories internally, so people are inspired to stay engaged.

Have you had any “Golden Learning Moments” – or big wins?

There’s one that was both. Part of my job has been to rescue projects in trouble. There have been a few projects that were on a bad path and we’ve managed to bring them back using engagement.

BRONTE CREEK PARK 1
Bronte Creek Park

One in particular was a decision to build a fence between a pathway and Bronte Creek provincial park (east end of Burlington). There’s a residential area nearby and people love to walk along the path and look into this beautiful park, see the deer and so forth.

It was a safety issue. The path was right beside a steep embankment, and there was a danger of people falling – in fact, some people had: they weren’t hurt badly, but the Fire Department – which has to rescue the people who fall – raised concerns.

But some people were concerned that the fence would block the view of the park, and then an influential person in the community shot a video showing what he felt was being lost and asking how the City could do this without consulting.

This fellow called himself “Mr Burlington”, because he wanted to experience as many Burlington events as possible in one year. The video got a lot of hits and we realized we had to hold a greater level of discussion than we thought.

So we met as a team with the ward Councillor, the staff involved in the fence project and the department involved. The question was, People don’t feel engaged: where can we share power here?

I like asking that question, because then we can determine where we land on the Spectrum. We can say specifically what parts of a proposal are “fixed” and what parts are flexible.

People need to know that, if they’re going to trust the engagement process: we can’t say we’ll involve them in a decision and then not. People want you to be genuine they want you to say “Here’s what we can do – and here’s what we can let you be a part of.”

So we needed a fence for safety reasons – but how do we get that across to the people? I suggested that we take residents for a walk-and-talk along the trail in the spring, when the weather was mild enough. We announced it through the media, then met neighbours and park users in the park and walked them along the trail to show why staff felt it was dangerous.

bronte creek park 4 - rejected option
An option they didn’t choose

About 60 to 70 people came out and they were absolutely thrilled. They liked meeting the Councillor and the Mayor and meeting staff and asking questions. We handed out hot chocolate, met together and walked together along the trail.

We also came up with four different types of fences, and set them up along the trail so people could see and select what kind of fence they preferred. We also put the designs on the website so people could vote online. We made sure it was only Burlington residents who could vote.

bronte creek park 3 - chosen option
The option chosen by the community.

And in the end, it was the community that picked the fence. The impact of having a plan and engaging people as much as we could and maintain safety was amazing: the next story in the media was about how we were engaging people.

How hard was it to sell Council and staff on engaging people?

Council was already supportive of the engagement charter. Many members of the Council that was elected in 2010 were already engaging in their wards, and they were hungry for staff to do more.

So after Council approved the engagement charter, we brought it to staff and developed the Charter Action Plan. We used internal P2 to engage the staff on engagement, using surveys, dot-mocracy and so forth to find out what staff would support and what they would not support.

We put together a toolkit for staff, which we’re still fine-tuning, and provided P2 training for new staff in roles where they would need to understand engagement.

Recently, we took the engagement charter and had the ChAT – Charter Action Team – pare it down to its essence, defining the role of the City and the role of the residents, and put it on a plaque. We set up seven plaques – one in each ward and one at City Hall – and eventually, we’ll have forty plaques around the city.

The idea was to have Council members show their commitment to engagement by unveiling those plaques. To give you an idea of how the media view public engagement, the plaque unveiling – which generally doesn’t get much media coverage – was a story in both the Hamilton Spectator and the Burlington Post.

We’re always asking who do we need to involve … who do we need to inform … who do we need to engage?

What do you see for the future of engagement?

I see two trends. For a time, I taught writing for public relations at McMaster University, and if you look at PR today, I’d say it’s not the same practice that it was when I first started. Today, it’s all about engagement. Social media has enabled better two-way conversations: you can listen and respond to an issue and are able to reach perhaps hundreds of thousands of people with a single Tweet – and that’s exciting.

The other trend is that an area that’s going to get a lot of traction from engagement is planning and development. The ones who are successful are the ones who engage with communities.

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

Those who have previous experience doing something else bring so much more to the table when they go into the P2 field. If you go to college or university, take one of those subjects and then go straight into it, you’ll have a long learning curve. Those who have done something else, have knowledge of something practical, something operational, world knowledge, will have the advantage. They’ll know something about people and how they think.

From the Board – April 2017: Jorge Avilès

jorge-o-avilesRecently, I was invited to attend a discussion on Globalization versus Isolationism led by a panel of well-known and respected authorities on the subject. I suspected that it would address foreign labour migration – legal or not – and building walls to control it.

Being fond of cultural diversity, I attended the event hoping to hear a discussion about cultural preservation and adaptation. Much to my surprise, the bulk of the presentation and the debate that followed had to do more with the economy of our world than with its ever-mutating culture.

The panel of experts was set on predicting how the use of international agreements like NAFTA can affect the economy of the participating countries and the interest of foreign investors. My mind struggled to focus on the dialogue, and kept going back to the thought of how many cultures around the globe continue to lose authenticity, due in part to the higher level of importance our 21st century society gives to financial matters, as opposed to the preservation of traditions and cultural subtleties.

As I was walking back to the office, I caught myself thinking in Spanish; and I couldn’t help but ponder how people speak different languages because they think differently. So many phrases in any given tongue are practically untranslatable – they convey a feeling or an image understood only by its native speakers.

Living in a culturally rich country like Canada, you have to wonder how many of the people we try to communicate with daily refrain from sharing their thoughts for fear of being misunderstood or judged. Learning to speak English or French like a native only offers a partial solution – true public participation practitioners must care enough to go beyond the limitations set by the governing culture or official languages.

So many new Canadians I know are here not because of our wonderful country’s sound economy, but because it offers them a chance to live in peace. The terms “globalization” and “isolationism” to them have very little to do with economics – they speak more to the reality of how much our world is showing signs of becoming one globalized society of isolated cultures.

Public participation (P2) is only possible when we care enough to include – not just tolerate.

Volunteer Engagement: Making the experience rewarding

AnitaWasiuta2One of our goals at IAP2 Canada is to provide all volunteers with an experience that is meaningful, rewarding, inspiring and educational. In 2016, a roadmap was developed to help us get there, and Anita Wasiuta, a longtime IAP2 member, was hired as the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator (VEC) to implement the new program. We’ve already seen the program’s benefits, with the smooth and reliable support given at the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference last fall in Montréal. Read more about it.

The framework for volunteer engagement is a phased approach and supports IAP2 Canada’s strategic direction. The VEC begins by working with the project leader to develop the workforce planning—to understand the roles, hours, and skills needed for the position. The next step is to attract volunteers and focus on skills, experience, and training for the position. Once the volunteer is in the position, the project lead becomes the main contact until the wrap-up stage, when Anita holds a debriefing with the volunteer.

The process-driven approach empowers volunteers to move from project leaders to project and people leaders, and to further advance their skills while volunteering in a supportive environment.

Since last summer, we have used this process to recruit the on-site volunteers for the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference, the members of the Indigenous Community of Practice committee and the Training Committee members. We are presently working on planning and recruitment for the Communication Committee workforce.

In the next few months, Anita will work with other project leads to create the workforce planning and volunteer recruitment for the Conference 2018 Committee, and will also present the program to the local chapters and IAP2 USA board.

As a volunteer, you help build best practices in public engagement. Watch for upcoming volunteer roles in our newsletter and website. We look forward to working with you!

April 23-29 is National Volunteer Week in Canada. According to Volunteer Canada, 87 percent of Canadians have volunteered for something at some point in their lives, and youth have the highest volunteer rate: 66%.

CORE VALUES AWARDS: ON YOUR MARKS … GET SET … APPLY!

As a P2 practitioner you work hard to ensure that you are developing and delivering great public participation processes. Have you been a part of a P2 project that involved innovation, breaking new ground and/or engaging previously unreached sectors? Have you worked with Indigenous communities and/or devoted your time and talents for the greater good? The time is NOW to give others the opportunity to give you a pat on the back, and apply for the 2017 IAP2 Core Values Awards.

There are four Project Categories:

  • Extending the Practice through Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation in the Field
  • Indigenous Engagement
  • P2 for the Greater Good and
  • Respect for Diversity and Inclusiveness

There are also three National Award Categories:

Project of the Year, selected from the four Project Category winners, above,

Organization of the Year and

Research Project of the Year.

The three National Award winners will go on to compete for IAP2 Federation Core Values Awards against winning projects from other Affiliates.

Applications are being taken now through May 10, so visit the Core Values Award page and download the Applicant’s Kit. The winners will be recognized at the Core Values Awards Gala, to be held in conjunction with the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference, Sept. 6-8, in Denver.

Need inspiration? Learn about past IAP2 Canada Core Values Award winners from 2016, 2015 and 2014. Read about winners from around the world in the IAP2 Federation’s annual Core Values Awards Showcase.

Chapter News – Prairies

March 2017

PRAIRIES CHAPTER-1IAP2 Prairies Chapter held a successful event in Regina. In this hands on, interactive, small-group session, Dialogue Partners taught attendees about the Socratic Circle technique.

Socratic Circles can effectively embrace and address existing emotion and outrage by harnessing the collective energy to gather insight and make space for group wisdom to emerge. This technique has potential to build capacity, deepen resiliency and create new understanding and compassion.

Wild Rose Chapter News

March 2017

Calgary Coffee Klatch

COFFEE KLATSCHCommunications Board members Rebecca McElhoes and Sue Blanchard hosted a lively discussion on March 15. Clockwise from bottom left: Rebecca, CJ Nyeste, Sue, Erin Pote, Samantha Brown and Brenden Smith.

The topic: preparing internal teams for engagement and helping clients to identify elements of projects that are “open” to engagement.  They also shared stories about building trust with both clients and external stakeholders, and spoke about how the practice of engagement has evolved in the last decade.  Your WR Board encourages you to participate in Coffee Klatches in your neck of the woods as they’re a great opportunity to get to know your fellow practitioners, share a few war stories, and even learn a thing or two from others’ experiences.

IAP2 Wild Rose 2017 survey results

The IAP2 Wild Rose chapter recently conducted a membership survey and the results reveal how members (and non-members) feel about the chapter’s services.  Respondents noted how the chapter could help improve their skills, commented on which events they enjoyed and even told us what their strategic priorities are in public participation for the next 6 to 18 months.

Fast facts:

  • 66 people responded/86% were members
  • Most respondents work for the government (39%), work for themselves (30%), or work for a corporation (23%)
  • Most noted that public participation, community relations, or communications was their primary work focus, though a small number also identified employee engagement, negotiation and research were components of their work.
  • 61% of respondents stated planning for public participation that meets best practices was a priority while the next most popular responses were measuring return on investment and measuring reputation.
  • 92% of respondents stated that public participation would remain an equal or become a greater priority within their own or their organization’s practice over the next 2-3 years.
  • Key topics of interest to respondents included:
  • Interactive, online engagement tools
  • Measuring Public Participation success
  • Indigenous engagement

These results will be shared with various board committees to help focus our activities and services in the coming year.

We thank you for your open and honest responses and are thrilled to have had so many respondents identify their interest in volunteering with IAP2 Wild Rose.  Our various committees will be considering opportunities for engaging these eager resources.

We would also like to congratulate Sara Alaric, our lucky survey respondent who was randomly selected to win a $50 Starbucks card!