Are you a highly motivated person who would like to be involved in developing and implementing a successful IAP2 event?  Here’s your opportunity!

We are inviting people to join the Steering Committee for the 2018 IAP2 North American Conference. The conference will be held on September 5-7 in Victoria, British Columbia. As a Steering Committee member, you will support the development, planning and implementation of the conference, including the creation of subcommittees to assist in the delivery of this popular conference. The committee members will work with the local Chapter, IAP2 Canada staff, and make recommendations to the Board.

In early fall, there will be opportunities to be part of subcommittees including Program, Local Fun Committee and Sponsorship. Position descriptions will be posted later this summer.

Interested? Check out the Steering Committee job description for more information and submit your Expression of Interest by June 30, 2017.  Anyone, from anywhere, can serve on this committee.  Questions? contact Anita Wasiuta,  IAP2 Canada’s volunteer coordinator, at anitaiap2@gmail.com

How to hit the P2 Sweet Spot

Core Values_Article 2_canada-01

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settling a question without debating it.” – Joseph Joubert

Let’s see if we can’t do both. In order to successfully debate a question and settle it we need Core Values 3 and 4, which tell us to include everyone who may be impacted by the decision and to use their input to reach a sustainable decision. To fully explain the role these Core Values play, I’ll be sharing three stories that were told to me when I interviewed Susanna Haas Lyons, Wendy Lowe, and Doug Sarno.

Core Value 3: Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.

Core Value 4: Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.

In explaining how these Core Values operate, Wendy described a venn diagram that is used in the IAP2 training manual illustrating the attributes of potential solutions during a decision-making process. Once circle includes options that are affordable, the second includes ones that are technically sound, and the third options that are publicly acceptable. “What we as P2 practitioners are trying to do is to find the sweet spot.”

The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project

The US Department of Energy was dealing with a volume of waste in Idaho that was hazardous and radioactive. The DOE prepared an environmental impact statement to find the most appropriate, affordable, and technically sound. They engaged the public throughout Idaho and, four years and lots of money later, decided that an incinerator would be the best way to proceed.

However, when they went to get their permit to build the incinerator, they had to check in with the Department of Environmental Quality who asked the DOE which way the wind would blow. That was the moment when the DOE realized they’d more or less forgotten a category of stakeholders: the State of Wyoming. Specifically Jackson, Wyoming where the citizens would be bearing the brunt of the environmental externality. Jackson held a public meeting attended by 500 people that raised $500,000 and killed the incinerator overnight.

This story demonstrates how when you leave out one of the affected parties you cannot know what options are in the publicly acceptable bubble, and can reach solutions that are unable to sustain themselves.

Interestingly, the phrase “including decision makers” wasn’t added to Core Value #3 until 2005 when the Core Values were reviewed. This was one of few substantive changes, but the committee doing the review felt that without this wording the deck would be stacked in favor of the stakeholders. Decision makers are important because they hold the institutional knowledge that populates the options in the bubbles of what is affordable and what is technically sound.


In 2007, California was undergoing health care reform under Governor Schwarzenegger. Susanna, working for America Speaks, helped convene a statewide forum in which over 300,000 people participated, including many undocumented immigrants. The forum looked at two proposals for reforming health care, what they offered, and the major choices that had to make when deciding between the two. This forum enabled legislators (the decision makers in this instance) to see what their constituents supported and make more informed decisions.

The next step in the process is reaching a sustainable decision. Doug said to me, “Making decisions is pretty easy, implementing them and making those decisions work is where the hard part comes in.” A sustainable decision is the difference between getting public buy-in versus public ownership.


A former uranium processing facility needed to be closed and its waste disposed in Ohio. There was a huge waste site with wastes that were more or less hazardous scattered throughout. The local community had felt pretty firmly that they did not want this to remain in their backyard. One member of the community in particular, Lisa, was quite vocal about this. And when a workshop was held that used chips for participants to allocate to on- or off- site disposal, Lisa swept all the chips off the board. “I don’t want any of it to stay here.”

Doug told her that was an option, but now it was time to run the math. The facilitators had programs set up that would calculate the number of expected truck trips, traffic accidents, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. that would result from moving all of the waste from Ohio to Nevada. As Lisa watched the numbers populate she turned to Doug and said, “We can’t do this.”

In the end about 90% of the waste by volume remained in an on-site disposal facility. Most of the more hazardous material was moved off-site. The area is now a 900-acre wildlife preserve and education center. There is also a history museum on site that includes a description of this notable public participation process.

Doug described this as “the most fundamental aha moment I’ve had in my career” watching the public participation process move a participant from a “them” to a “we” mentality. This is the full expression of all three circles of the venn diagram. It hits the sweet spot and reaches a sustainable solution that the community not only accepts, it owns.

cv2 speakers


This article is the #2 in a series of articles about the Core Values. Keep an eye out for the more features in upcoming newsletters.

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

Share your Story

Learn more about IAP2’s Core Values

Lauren Wirtis

By: Lauren Wirtis
IAP2 USA Intern

CHAPTER NEWS – June 2017

St Lawrence / Saint-Laurent

ST-LAURENT - LAURENCE AND JOANAL’assemblée générale annuelle de la section Saint-Laurent a eu lieu le 16 juin. Deux invitées sont venues de la France pour faire une présentation : Laurence Monnoyer-Smith (à gauche), commissaire générale au développement durable, et Joana Janiw, ancienne membre de la Fédération AIP2, discutaient la nouvelle « Charte de la participation public ».  Lire leur PowerPoint ici.

L’assemblée entière a été enregistrée, et peut-être écoutée ici; le PowerPoint peut-être lu ici.

Le conseil de la section pour 2017-2018 a était élu, soit :

  • Marcello Bursztein – Ottawa
  • Janis Crawford – Montréal
  • Guy Grenier – Montréal
  • Krista Kagume – Ottawa
  • Joseph Thornley – Ottawa
  • Louis-Michel Tremblay – Saguenay
  • Peter Wilton – Ottawa
  • Hugo Mimee – Montréal (président sortant)

Les positions seront déterminées à la première réunion du nouveau conseil, ou en juillet ou en août.

En terminant son titre de président, Hugo nous dit : « Pour ma part, j’ai terminé mon mandat à titre de président. Et je laisse la place à quelqu’un d’autre. Je demeure toutefois impliqué pour an à titre de président sortant. Ma plus grande réalisation au cours de ce mandat est d’avoir organisé bon nombre d’événement, notamment Des Consultations municipales qui ont du mordant! en mars 2016 et bien entendu la conférence nord-américaine de Montréal en septembre 2016. Je continue mes efforts afin de faire plus de bilinguisme à AIP2 Canada et d’entretenir un réseau de bénévoles (membres et non-membres) qui s’impliquent d’une façon ou d’une autre auprès de l’AIP2. »

The St Lawrence Chapter held its Annual General Meeting on June 16.

The guest speakers were Laurence Monnoyer-Smith (left), Secretary for Sustainable Development, and Joana Janiw. former member of the IAP2 Federation Board and responsible for public participation in France. They described the French government’s “Charter of Public Participation”.

Read the presentation PowerPoint (in French) here.

The AGM, including the guest presentation, was recorded and can be heard here. The accompanying PowerPoint can be found here.

The St Lawrence Chapter elected its new Board for 2017-2018:

  • Marcello Bursztein – Ottawa
  • Janis Crawford – Montréal
  • Guy Grenier – Montréal
  • Krista Kagume – Ottawa
  • Joseph Thornley – Ottawa
  • Louis-Michel Tremblay – Saguenay
  • Peter Wilton – Ottawa
  • Hugo Mimee – Montréal (past-president)

The executive positions will be determined at the new Board’s first meeting in July or August.

In stepping down as Chapter President, Hugo says, “I am stepping down in favour of someone else, but will continue as past-president for the next year. Over my term as president, my greatest accomplishment was to increase the number of events, notably “Municipal Consultations with Bite!” that we held in March 2016 and, of course, the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference in Montreal in September. I will continue to work to increase bilingualism in IAP2 Canada and to increase the network of volunteers – both members and non-members – working with IAP2 in one way or another.”


En mai, l’événement mensuel “3° mardi” mettait en vedette trois fonctionnaires fédérales, Laura Wesley du bureau du conseil privé, Mélanie Robert du Conseil du trésor du Canada, et Dhurata Ikonomi du Communauté des régulateurs fédéraux (et membre du conseil national de l’AIP2 Canada dès septembre proche). Elles ont donné une mise-au-jour sur le projet du Gouvernement ouvert.

Lire le « Twitter Moment » (en anglais) ici.

In May, the monthly “Third Tuesday” featured three Federal Government officials — Laura Wesley of the Privy Council office, Melanie Robert from the Treasury Board, and Dhurata Ikonomi of the Community of Federal Regulators – providing an update on the Open Government Project.

The event was captured in a Twitter Moment.


The BC Chapter’s “P2 Drinks” series moved out of the usual centres – Vancouver or Victoria – into Duncan, about 45 minutes north of Victoria. IAP2 BC Vice-President Lisa Moilanen, IAP2 Canada board member Mike Waters, and IAP2 Canada Executive Manager Amelia Shaw were among the dozen or so who met at a restaurant in Duncan.

The evening featured a lively exchange of ideas and views with frank and open conversation and networking, building the sort of support system P2 professionals need in order to advance the practice.

DUNCAN P2Natasha Horsman (standing, left) of the Municipality of North Cowichan explained how IAP2 principles are taking hold in its consultation strategy, although there is still work to be done to make it part of the culture around Municipal Hall. Also, municipalities in the Cowichan Valley Regional District – which includes Duncan and North Cowichan – are starting to combine efforts to reach out to more people.

Some of the “take-aways” from the event, according to Lisa Moilanen, included:

  • Local governments are on the cusp of change, and expectations are shifting
  • Politicians need to understand the demographics of their communities better, and note that different sectors have different expectations – which means it’s necessary to have different tools
  • Current discourse tends to be polarized and sometimes unreasonable
  • Everyone wins when you inform early – this can head off spreading of misconceptions and negative reaction, particularly in smaller communities
  • Influencers need to be given enough information to allow for deeper conversation within the community
  • Open Houses are the most known tool in that region of smaller communities, but they can be ineffective – especially if the topic is uncontroversial
  • People need to be “brought along”, that is, they need to be told that engagement is a process that works over time.

Wild Rose

Signature Event

For more than 20 years, the IAP2 Wild Rose Chapter has brought its members its Signature Event, a one or two-day conference stakeholder engagement professionals across Alberta. The successful semiannual event attracted roughly 80 attendees this year and focused on “Walking Together: Reconciliation and Public Participation”. Held on May 4th and 5th in Edmonton, Alberta, the conference sessions focused on Indigenous Engagement, reconciliation between Indigenous people and all Canadians, and the role the public participation profession can play and the contribution we can make to this important work.

A key highlight of the 2017 Signature Event was the Blanket Exercise, an interactive learning experience that shared the history behind Indigenous rights. The exercise took participants on an emotional and intellectual adventure and effectively increased their levels of understanding and empathy.

For more detailed information about on our Signature Event, click here.

Wild Rose Board Update:

The Wild Rose Chapter is pleased to announce our Incoming President, Lauren Bartlette, and welcome the new 2017-2019 Board. Lauren, as well as the new Board members are excited to build on past successes, lessons learned and feedback from the member’s survey to exceed our member’s expectations this term. We would also like to thank exiting Board members Jennifer Wells, Rebecca Mcelhoes, Mariel Higuerey and Elizbeth Armitage for their time and dedication to the Wild Rose Chapter; your commitment to the profession is appreciated.

Welcome 2017 – 2019 Wild Rose returning Board members

  • Lauren Bartlette, President (2017-2018)
  • Gay Robinson, Treasurer (2016-2018)
  • Julie Carter, Secretary (2016-2018)
  • Amanda Kaiser, Past President (2017-2018)
  • Sue Blanchard (2016-2018)
  • Tom Schlodder (2016-2018)
  • Anne Huizinga (2016-2018)
  • Kevin Thorvaldson, Director at Large (2017-2019)
  • Mike Coldwell, Director at Large (2017-2019)

Welcome new 2017 – 2019 Wild Rose new Board members

  • Shawn Bravender, Vice President (2017-2019)
  • Annemarie Marshall, Director at Large (2017-2019)
  • Christine Waiand, Director at Large (2017-2019)
  • Kathryn (Katie) McKinnon, Director at Large (2017-2019)
  • Megan Mucignat, Youth Director (2017-2019)
  • Whitney McKenzie, Youth Director (2017-2019)

retreatThe Board gathered in Red Deer on June 9th, 2017 for their strategic retreat. The day was a great success, and provided an opportunity for new and existing board members to touch base on the Chapter’s vision and guiding principles, closely review the results of the member survey, break into the various committees and set priorities and action for the year ahead. The Board is eager to meet the needs of our members and volunteers while empowering them to achieve their public participation goals.


The Prairies Chapter hosted a Lunch-and-Learn in Winnipeg, featuring Certified Environmental Professional Somia Sadiq discussing Indigenous Engagement, and what to expect in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons. In particular, Somia, whose background is in mining, went into the full meaning of “Free, Prior and Informed Consent”.

The previously advertised Lunch-and-Learn on “Engagement, Traditional Knowledge and Environmental Assessment”, which had been scheduled for Saskatoon (and Regina, by web-conference), had to be postponed. No new date has been set.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Chapter held its Annual General Meeting on June 1. The new executive for 2017-2018 is:

  • President—Karla Kolli
  • Vice-president—Michelle Dwyer
  • Past-president—Donna Kell
  • Secretary—Jodi Ball
  • Treasurer—Chris Gurski
  • Members at Large—Kyal Butler, Tracey Ehl, Tracy Manolakakis

Message from Outgoing President Donna Kell

DONNA KELL-3This is my second year serving on the executive board of the Great Lakes Chapter of IAP2. It has been my privilege to work with people who truly want to engage with corporate and government partners to create better decision-making and a better outcome.

Looking back on 2016-17
The Great Lakes Chapter began 2016-17 with an insightful presentation from Eric Bergman, APR, ABC and Master Communicator. Eric has taken his formidable knowledge of communications and human behaviour and blended it with a passion for public engagement. This was the basis for a P2 presentation pilot program that got off the ground successfully. We were thankful for a sneak peek in June 2016 at our AGM in Toronto.

In 2016, we also invited IAP2 Great Lakes Chapter members to visit Mohawk Institute Residential School, including the Woodland Cultural Centre, in Brantford. This was a riveting experience for all of us, and made real the struggle of our First Nations brothers and sisters and deepened our understanding of their experiences. Understanding this key partner helps us to be better at engaging and better at communicating.

We used a survey to reach out to our membership to see how they wished to be reached and get involved. They told us to use more online tools and to maintain face-to-face opportunities.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
We have identified our challenges for 2017. One of the biggest is the size of our coverage area. The Great Lakes Chapter stretches from Barrie in the north, Lake Ontario in the south, Kingston to the east and Fort Erie to the west and includes Highways 401 and 400 and the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). We will continue trying online ways, such as webinars and social media, to reach across our geography, maintaining that vital connection with each other and encouraging new friends to join IAP2 Great Lakes Chapter.

Emerging trends

In 2017, we will hear more about potential adjustments to the IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation and will contribute when and where we can to this important tool.  We will also see more traditional public relations and communications professionals develop their engagement skills and look to IAP2 for some helpful hints. We welcome these colleagues and invite them to join IAP2.

Thank you to the Executive Team for your efforts during 2016-17. We have accomplished great things together. I look forward to continuing to build the profile of IAP2 Great Lakes Chapter and ensure practitioners have the engagement tools they need to make great things happen.


Donna Kell, APR
President, 2016-2017, Great Lakes Chapter, IAP2 Canada

Meet a Member, June 2017: Lonny Gabinet (Class of ’92)

2017 marks 25 years since the first Conference was held in Portland, Oregon. At the time, it was called IAP3 – the International Association of Public Participation Professionals – but in a few years, it had become a worldwide organization supporting both P2 practitioners and those interested in good P2.

lonny gabinetNAME: Lonny Gabinet

POSITION: Golfer, traveler, Queen of our mountain lake retreat

What has been your involvement with P2?

My career and the fledgling International Association for Public Participation Practitioners (IAP3) began together in 1992 at the first conference in Portland OR.

Actually, I was thrown into the arms of the new association by default: if you’re the communications person working for the City of Calgary then you probably know how to do a plan to involve the 800,000 + citizenry (the engineers didn’t know how to do it nor did they care) in developing a new city-wide transportation master plan. One member of City Council was hell bent on asking people what they wanted, to which I replied, “Why would you want to ask people what they think? They don’t know what you guys know …” It seemed pretty far-fetched that we would go out and ask people who had no education in transportation planning, and doing the unthinkable of setting up expectations that we would actually listen to them!

What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

I was coerced. It wasn’t the ‘what’ at all, it was the ‘who’. The boss said, “go take some courses” as he didn’t really know what P2 was, either. He just knew we had to do it. And our recently retained P2 consultant experts from a high flying international engineering company in Phoenix AZ (well-known IAP2 vets Marty Rozelle and Barbara Lewis) took me aside one day and suggested I go with them to the first IAP3 conference in Portland – and the rest, as they say — is history.

What ‘big wins” have you had?

Both the “big wins” and “tough lessons” categories are loaded. If you’re competitive and looking for the “big wins” all the time, this isn’t the field for you. It’s one of the most ambiguous and destabilizing, confidence-dashing careers out there, full of both humbling and glorious experiences.

Twenty-five years later I walk through vital, bustling re-developed and developing new neighbourhoods and varied districts in Calgary and look back on the epic discussions involving all the best professionals in the business.

As the only P2 person at the table for years, my fortunes vacillated between being tolerated as “the communications person”, to suspicious “whatever value, except taking our time, is this advisory group going to bring to the project?”, and eventually, “Well, it seems we can educate them to the extent that they can provide us with real insights on the options we present to them … after all they are the ones that live there and know it better than anybody else”.

How has P2 in Canada changed since you first started?

180 degrees. Barely on the radar screen and born of the activists of the 60s through 80s, my observation of citizen involvement in the early 90s is that IAP3 came into being because governments at all levels and organizations of every stripe were starting to realize that they needed some kind of social license from the folks affected by their decisions to move their agendas and it didn’t have to involve radicals throwing themselves in front of bulldozers.

Increasingly, educated citizens wanting involvement in their communities to maintain a) their steadily growing quality of life, or b) their aspirational quality of life against the backdrop of the economic post WWII expansion, expressed their willingness and desire to offer up their time to get up on the issues and come to the table to enrich the very decisions that were affecting them. What they also realized was, just like in any sport, there needs to be a referee, and that’s where the P2 professional came in.

Coming into the 21st century, governments and organizations were struggling to involve their people as there was little consistency as to how they did it. IAP3 had become more inclusive in its focus and devolved to IAP2, showcasing the practice itself instead of a narrow band of folks that were practitioners. P2, pervasively and respectfully done was becoming a movement and a belief of heads of organizations and governments especially. But “how to do it” with organizational consistency was becoming a very big question.

Having been through over a decade (1992-2002) of total P2 ‘on my feet’ immersion and guided by so many wise and experienced P2 folks, I felt ready for that question. In 2002 Calgary City Council wanted a consistent, effective and efficient policy for all City departments to follow so that Council could evaluate proposals that were formally run through the City’s adopted public participation process.

Bingo – for the leader of the City’s process to develop an overall civic engagement program (me), I ran back into the arms of IAP2 and the likes of the Rozelle/Lewis team. By this time, they and other IAP2 visionaries, academics and practitioners across the world were developing accredited courses and full training sessions were first offered in 2002. What fortunate timing for me and my team as we could tailor the new City of Calgary Engage! program around many of their training principles. Over the following decade I assisted other jurisdictions in creating their own engagement programs. Ten years after I began in the P2 field it was transitioning from rag-tag to principled, effective, organized – and demanded.

(Note: the City of Calgary won Core Values Awards for its engagement plans and practices in 2014 and 2015.)

Have you had a golden learning moment – when something went sideways but you learned from it?

You don’t have enough space here!

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

Leave your control freak at the door. You are consulting with people that usually have a stake in the outcome or decision. It may affect their lifestyle, family, health, safety, environment and many more aspects of their lives that often draw emotional and not necessarily rational reactions. Be flexible. You can’t control the consultation but there are tools and techniques that you can acquire from IAP2 training that will help you help the stakeholders to bring the very best of themselves to the table so that decisions are improved by their very involvement.

Project proponents must support the profession’s assertion that “decisions are improved if those who are affected by them are involved.” They must be prepared to modify, to some degree, their proposals to take into consideration the stakeholders’ perspectives. Why do we assert that decisions are improved? Because nobody knows their community (or fill in the blank) better than the members of the community themselves. If I get the sense that the proponent’s intentions about incorporating stakeholder views are inauthentic, I will back away. Participate in mentorship programs; there is no substitute for experience.

President’s Message – June 2017

Bruce Gilbert PhDAny organization worth its salt, periodically and proactively surveys its membership to identify emerging issues, challenges, and opportunities with an eye to improving services for members as well as overall organizational effectiveness.

The key guiding questions for such efforts tend to revolve around: Are we on track? What’s working? What’s not working or could be working better? What can we do about any deficiencies? What can we do to grow or expand things that are working well? What else should we doing? Given we are largely a volunteer-based organization, and cannot undertake every desirable project, initiative, or activity at once, what should our main priorities be?

Over 700 IAP2 Canada members and non-members were invited to take part: about 16% — and approximately 120 – responded.

But what will we do with the survey data? Have we used it for anything yet? First, all Board members – current and those starting their terms in September – have been asked to review the results. Knowing generally how the membership sees the organization and its activities can only help to ensure good decision-making in the future.

Next, our internal Board committee tasked with developing a first draft of our new organizational strategic plan for 2018-2020 carefully reviewed the results. Then the Strategic Plan Task Force held a retreat in Ottawa in May, where they ensured this data would guide their discussions.

Thirdly, at the first face-to-face meeting of the new Board (being held just after the North American Conference in Denver in September), we’ll review and consider the survey together.

Among the questions: have we thoughtfully and thoroughly considered (and used appropriately) the input received? How? What do we want to say to members about any action ideas the survey showed that we can’t act on at this time? Regarding the latter question, we fully intend to live up to the spirit of our own IAP2 principle that states public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision. We will tell the members how their survey responses will affect the way the organization runs and the way decisions are made.

A couple of high-level points stand out from the survey:

  • More than three-quarters of members are “satisfied” (58%) or “very satisfied” (20%) with their experience as IAP2 members. But 20% are not sure, mainly because they were either unaware of what membership resources or services were available, or because they were unconvinced that the organization was adequately advocating for or demonstrating high-quality P2. Clearly, we have some work to do (together).
  • Respondents also want more opportunities for skills development and to learn more about new techniques and best practices.
  • They believe that the organization’s communications efforts are generally on track.
  • When asked to name three hot topics, or top learning priorities for the future, members noted Indigenous participation, P2 techniques, and how to effectively use social media and other digital P2 tools.

In closing, I would like to thank all members who found the time to complete this latest IAP2 member survey. Your insights and ideas will help us to improve the functioning of IAP2 Canada.

IAP2 Core Values – The Origin Story

Core Values_Article 1_Canada

By: Lauren Wirtis
IAP2 USA Intern

Six P2 Practitioners walk into a bar…

There always is more to the story. That’s why I became interested in public participation. As an urban planner, I soon found that there is more to any urban landscape than the underlying zoning, the frequency with which buses are available, the width of the sidewalks, or parks per capita.

“So I’m guessing you heard the story about the group of us in a bar.”
“Yea, that’s what I heard.”
“That’s part of it.”

This was my introduction to IAP2’s Core Values The story everyone knows and the story everyone doesn’t. Today I’ll share both with you. But first, why are we here? This is the first of a four part series on the Core Values. Today’s article will focus on how the Core Values came to be and Core Values one and two. For each piece I’ll be interviewing trainers, practitioners, and Core Values Award judges. For this piece I talked to IAP2 Founders Marty Rozelle and Lewis Michaelson as well as IAP2 Canada Trainer, Lara Tierney

First things first. The story that always gets told and the one that doesn’t.

Six public participation practitioners walk into a conference in 1989. The punchline – they feel like nobody knows what they do. They meet up at a bar afterwards and share stories, tips, tricks, experiences, and the desire for a network of people with whom to share this experience. They take action and, by 1990 have formed the International Association for Public Participation Practitioners (IAP3). IAP3 was born as an international organization with founding members representing Australia, Canada, and the United States. Conferences were held starting in 1992 in Portland, Oregon.

At the second IAP2 Conference in Alberta, Canada the plan was to develop the Code of Ethics. As participants went into an open space session, they ended up talking about Core Values instead. This was the first day the Core Values were discussed.


“I still have the flip charts from that day. It felt like a piece of history to me, so I held onto it.” – Lewis Michaelson

At the 1995 conference the idea of Core Values was introduced. However, the Core Values weren’t formally adopted until 1999.

It is the six years from when the Core Values were first discussed to when they were adopted that I find intriguing. Indeed, this is where the story becomes more than six practitioners in a bar. By this time the organization had grown and while the Core Values were embraced by members and the Board of Directors, not everyone saw the Core Values in the same way. The main point of contention: should they be directive. In other words, is it the role of IAP2 to say what good public participation is?

Suffice to say there was a good deal of deliberation about this point. The Core Values were being vetted by practitioners with different backgrounds, from different countries, offering different perspectives on what it meant for the Core Values to be universal. They were tweaked, polished, and wordsmithed until they became the bones of P2. All this time they remained directive, but that very fact held up their adoption.

How did they finally come to be adopted? In a way, the decision ended up being decided for IAP2. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came across the Core Values and must have thought that they made sense because they included them in their community relations handbook. Shortly thereafter the board formally adopted the Core Values.

I had assumed that the story of how the Core Values came to be would have been a straight shot from inception to creation to adoption. Not so. Rather it was imbued with what a facilitator I know likes to call “antagonistic collaboration.” Disagreement in order to find the best possible solution.

Core Value #1: 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.

MartyRozellev2“Imagine driving home from work on long day. You make the final turn onto your street, pull into your driveway, and your spouse is out front putting a ‘For Sale’ sign on front yard. You’ve never talked about selling your home. What’s your first reaction?”

This is one of the scenarios Marty Rozelle poses to the people in her P2 Foundations course, and it instantly captures how personal decisions can feel and how quickly they can stir up our emotions when we feel we’re being left out of the conversation.

As an urban planner, I’m often drawn to the wisdom of Jane Jacobs who said, “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.” Whether we are practicing P2 in order to create spaces or policies or relationships, humans are the creators and should be at the forefront of the decision-making process.

However, the people creating the process aren’t representative of those being affected by that space, policy, or relationship. As P2 practitioners we have work to find out who is affected but not already at the table. Marty talked to me about how decision-makers often have great intentions but reach the wrong conclusion because the most affected group(s) wasn’t a part of the decision making process.

The most cited reason why people are excluded from a decision is because the decision-makers think the content is too technical. Usually this has more to do with the decision-maker not seeing the forest for the trees. We shouldn’t be asking people if they can take over transportation demand modeling for the local public transit system, but they can answer questions about where they take the bus and if it comes often enough. Does it connect them to the people and places they want to see? On these issues, the general public are experts, and full of information. And it is to them that we must fit our plans.

Core Value #2: Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.

“If you don’t intend to use their input, then don’t ask them. And that might be okay. That’s why ‘inform’ is on the Spectrum.” – Marty Rozelle

Oftentimes in P2 we’re communicating about complex issues that have technical criteria and requirements that limit the amount of impact the public can have on the decision. P2 practitioners try hard to make people feel a sense of self efficacy amidst the myriad of layers of information, (such as travel demand modeling, construction timelines, constrained budgets, and zoning requirements) to name a few. What I learned from Marty, Lewis, and Lara is to plan, Plan, PLAN ahead in order to be effective. And then follow through.

Plan to find the decision people can truly influence. Plan for who you need to reach and where to reach them. Plan what questions you’ll ask. Plan for what answers you might get. What happens if the pick they option you weren’t expecting? What happens if the decision is split 50/50? What will you do if no one takes your survey? What will you do if 5,000 people take it?

Plan because people deserve to have a say in the decisions that affect them and the only thing worse than not giving them that opportunity is pretending to give them that opportunity, or what Lewis referred to as SCID: solicit-consider-ignore-decide. I asked Lewis what you do if most of the decisions have already been made. He told me, “Keep going through the decision space to find where the decision has not already been made.” If a decision-maker is certain there is nothing to ask, then don’t. Lewis referred to this as decide-announce-defend. Make your decision, give an explanation, and answer follow up questions.

Ensuring that people can see the connection between their input and the outcome – what Lara refers to as creating the “line of sight” – is a crucial part of the follow through once you’ve done all your planning. She cited the example of River Park in Calgary. During the public engagement process, the City of Calgary drew up a board showing how the final recommendations tied back to the themes they heard during the public engagement. The park management plan also acknowledged that some things that were heard were not included in the plan and explained why that was the case. After this process, Lara said that even people who disagreed with parts of the plan often said, “It’s not what I would have done but I see how you got there.”

What the Core Values do is remind us that public participation is more than an exercise in reaching consensus. There are sights, smells, feelings, and memories tied up in the conversation. The more personal they are, the tighter they can work themselves into a knot. The decisions we make matter, especially when they affect other people, and we need to be careful and (more importantly) deliberate in the way we involve them in these decisions. This is the essence of the first two Core Values.

This article is the first 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!

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Lauren Wirtis

By: Lauren Wirtis
IAP2 USA Intern

Webinar Rewind: “Facilitation Matters” (Montreal Encore — June 2017)

Your company or agency is about to embark on a new project that will affect a lot of people and is very technical, very controversial, or both. How do you make sure the public is as engaged as possible?

That’s where facilitation comes in, and in our June webinar, Rebecca Sutherns of Sage Solutions and Kate Bishop of the City of Guelph, Ontario, reprised their popular session from the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference, “Facilitation Matters”.

Facilitation is a specialized skill – which is why there’s an International Association of Facilitators with a certification process – and facilitators can lift the burden of running a meeting and facing sometimes unpredictable crowds off the shoulders of the technical experts. Facilitators do their job, and let the technical experts do theirs.

Facilitation, according to Rebecca and Kate, involves “a structured series of conversations that guide participants to a shared result that they have created, understood and accepted.” It has to be intentional – with attention to detail, experiential objectives and especially an eye towards making it worthwhile for someone to come to a workshop or open house.

You can watch a video, “What Do Facilitators Do?” here.

Some of the key points:

  • Sweat the small stuff: if a poster has incorrect information, the venue is poorly laid-out or even there aren’t enough cups for drinks, the reaction will often be, “What else did they get wrong?” and trust will be damaged.
  • Ask questions that people can answer: technical explanations may work for technical staff, but if people don’t understand what they’re being asked, the information you get from their responses won’t be of much use. “What they see is what you get”.
  • Plan for different scenarios: if your main plan goes sideways, you need Plans B and C to fall back on. And if Plan D is what actually happens, the process of planning for the other scenarios will make you more nimble in handling it.
  • Design to Engage: make it fun – quizzes and prizes can go a long way to make people want to take part. When you do that, the meeting makes people fully involved, rather than passive listeners, and the exercise is truly worth their while.
  • Plan for “Various Kinds of Smart” (also called “Multiple Intelligences”): different people engage in different ways, and this Howard Gardner chart shows eight such ways. The philosophy that “variety increases inclusion” helps bring as many people as possible into the conversation.MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE
  • Sometimes, particularly vocal participants or a protest group can disrupt a meeting and side-track proceedings. Setting ground rules at the beginning can help, but you need to be judicious: they can be unnecessary or obvious or even a bit condescending – implying that the facilitator expects that participants are likely to behave poorly in the meeting. They can be provided to, or developed with/by the group.

A good facilitator both anticipates the public’s expectations and shapes them. Kate and Rebecca used four case studies from their own work to illustrate. A traffic calming study; a plan for a community “hub” in a city park, a re-write of an animal control bylaw and developing a community investment strategy, all presented challenges and required customized, deliberate techniques and tools to meet them.

The recording of the webinar, along with collateral materials provided by Rebecca and Kate, is available to IAP2 members on their affiliate website. You can also continue the discussion with Kate Bishop at kate.bishop@guelph.ca or Rebecca Sutherns at rebecca@sage-solutions.org.

The June webinar was very interactive, with people taking part by asking questions and sharing their own experiences. Below, you’ll find some of the remarks made by the participants. Many of the questions were answered in the actual webinar, so you’ll find them on the recording, in the “Members Only > Webinars” section of www.iap2canada.ca. But how would you answer them? What are your experiences and insights. This has proven to be a stimulating conversation, and we hope you’ll help keep it going: please use the “Comments” section at the end to do so.


What are some unexpected situations you’ve had to deal with when facilitating?

  • Rock band practice upstairs of workshop. Ask about other activities at your event location.
  • We were part of a national, multi-site public engagement event on, ironically enough, transportation. That Saturday, metro KC had its huge marathon event. Half of our facilitators were trapped on the wrong side of the event and had to go miles out of their way to get to the site. I learned to check for other events after that experience.
    • Ugh!
  • For a visioning exercise, I used the dotting exercise (e.g. dotmocracy) to brainstorm guiding principles and narrow in on top 5. After the exercise, one of the participants said he didn’t like the exercise. In hindsight, I should’ve had other mechanisms in my back pocket. And, I should’ve made sure the group is ok with my plan at the beginning of the workshop.  
  • Consultation burnout and other related engagement events occurring at the same time…and creeping into our meeting agenda.
  • Walls of windows; bumpy walls; walls covered in art
  • Participants are happy to help with set-up, if asked, so don’t be afraid to ask.
    • Response from Rebecca:  While it’s true many people wouldn’t mind helping, I wonder if it also makes the facilitation team look poorly prepared and less professional, depending on the context.
  • Sometimes facilitation is not appropriate if you cannot assemble the critical stakeholders. Lower commitment modes engagement (surveys, interviews etc.) might be more appropriate.
    • Agreed – or for other reasons. This is part of asking questions participants can answer – if they are not well positioned to do so, then don’t ask them.

General questions:

I would be interested in recommended learning resources and tricks of the trade for newer/beginner facilitators.

There is a response to this on the recording re: IAF and also http://sage-solutions.org/training/e-courses/ I’d encourage you not only to deepen your facilitation toolbox with techniques, but also to pursue learning when it’s most appropriate to use each one. 

What do you do when there are people protesting outside meeting and media present?

Response from Kate: You should ensure that senior managers or technical experts are present to answer protesters separately and away from planned event. I also commented that I had used this same technique to effectively manage individual vocal participants on a one on one basis. 

When you prepare your participants with the background information etc. do you also include group norms or engagement rules?

To facilitate or not to facilitate? How do you decide whether a facilitative session(s) is the right tool for your situation and at this point in time?   

What are some effective/successful ways to facilitate meetings (under 20 persons) and take notes at the same time?  

Something that we’ve been thinking through recently is the role of electeds (politicians) in a workshop format.  

How would you deal with a Steering Committee member whose “hidden agenda” is to derail the process on behalf of his/her stakeholders to ensure that an forthcoming legislated power is not pursued by the municipality – and won’t admit to it?

I’d recommend being as forthright/explicit as reasonably possible. Conflict is more easily handled when it is named and addressed.

What about when the senior manager is the particularly difficult participant?

There are numerous strategies to deal with difficult people and with power differentials in a room. Good process usually trumps bad behaviour. If people are feeling heard through the process, they rarely feel the need to assert their voice in inappropriate ways. In this case, it may also depend on whether the senior manager is also the project sponsor/client. If so, perhaps you can speak to her/him in advance about how s/he can be the most helpful presence possible in the room. 

Many facilitations are part of larger efforts to change complex systems. How have you assessed the impact of isolated facilitations within the broader project?

It’s true that individual facilitated meetings are usually part of larger systemic change processes. It’s been my experience that people value being heard, having confidence their feedback will be meaningful/useful, and having their time used well. We do have experience assessing the impact of both individual sessions and the broader processes in which they are embedded.

What tools do they use in face-to-face meetings to gather answers (e.g. Mythbusters quiz)?

This is a very broad question…specific tools would depend on the design of the session – its purpose, size, length, positioning within a larger process, level of strong emotion etc. I’d be happy to answer direct questions on this, grounded in participants’ actual scenarios and do provide facilitation coaching for doing so. 

General comment:

For participants’ information – Facilitation Impact Award nominations are open. https://www.iaf-world.org/site/facilitation-impact-awards. The Facilitation Impact Awards (FIA) honour organisations that have used facilitation to achieve a measurable and positive impact as well as the facilitator(s) who worked with them.