Communications 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.
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
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!
On March 15, the P2 Drinks series launched “Try a Technique”. The result of requests from IAP2 BC members, these sessions are held in conjunction with Foundations training courses: an opportunity to “test drive” a particular technique in an environment where one can make mistakes, learn from one another and ask questions.
The March session highlighted the Interview Matrix, a tool that helps promote dialogue in small groups (fewer than 40 people). It’s described as one of the more powerful ways of making sure everyone gets equal time, in order to build consensus.
The ‘Namgis First Nation and the Village of Alert Bay share tiny Cormorant Island – off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. The two communities have a unique mix of separate and combined cultures, histories and economies. The island was, in fact, the economic hub of northern Vancouver Island, due in large part to the commercial fishery. But in the 80s, the fishery declined, and when the world economy sank in the early part of this century, businesses closed and young people started moving away.
The two communities decided the only way to address the new reality was to increase levels of cooperation in search of a solution. EcoPlan International was called in to help produce the new Economic Development plan. The process involved deep P2 from the beginning to build trust and discover common values. As practitioners, EPI’s Colleen Hamilton and William Trousdale realized they had to learn the engagement context of two very different communities sharing the same, small space. They did so by walking the streets and talking to people – “intercept interviews” – and getting beyond the “usual suspects” in a P2 process.
As well as “meeting them where they’re at” – both physically and culturally – they enlisted local leaders to help identify people and groups that might be overlooked. They used business drop-ins and door-to-door, unstructured interviews with people and hired youth ambassadors to explain the plans to their peers. So that people could own the process, they held a “name the plan” contest, and “Tides of Change” remains synonymous with the plan that belongs to the community.
A crucial step came when a major credit union opened a branch in Alert Bay. When the last bank closed a branch several years ago, local businesses were unable to continue operating and the economic decline rapidly increased. When Vancouver City Savings (Vancity) opened its new branch, it meant that local businesses could get support and money earned on the island tended to stay on the island.
For the two communities, “Tides of Change” has meant another important step: economic reconciliation. This is an opportunity to bring equality through actions rather than simply words.
For the Saint Paul, Minnesota, Public School District (SPPS), the task was to upgrade 72 district facilities (US $2.1 billion in assets) to meet the needs of a very diverse set of students with contemporary needs and expectations. SPPS students are:
2% American Indian
Over 100 languages and dialects are spoken at home.
72% of the students live in poverty.
Some years ago, the district made a deep commitment to racial equity, and like many school systems is moving toward a student-centered, personalized approach to learning, to better prepare students for 21st century educational, employment, and community expectations.
In designing a process for the new Master Facility Plan, the Facilities Department adjusted itself in parallel with the change in the educational approach, shifting from an “expert” model to an inclusive, stakeholder-centered approach. They adopted the IAP2 Core Values, and given the technical, regulatory, and funding constraints put the process at “Involve” on the IAP2 Spectrum. At the same time, they agreed whenever possible to choose techniques that leaned toward “collaborate” on the Spectrum to demonstrate their commitment to understand and incorporate multiple perspectives and new ideas.
A strong stakeholder analysis process made clear that students, families, staff, and community partners were among the key stakeholders, and in accordance with the Core Values they must genuinely help shape of the process. A large and diverse group from across the district sat on the planning committee to frame the overall effort and serve as process stewards to ensure it was welcoming, inclusive, and respectful of all stakeholder groups and demographics.
Per the Core Values, a key priority was ensuring that participants believed and could see that their contributions made a difference. School-created internal teams thus included the usual leadership and staff and students, parents, and community members. Further, staff and consulting architects participated in a two-day racial equity training course. Those school teams and the planning committee then helped design a series of Saturday morning workshops that brought together teams from multiple schools within a K-12 pathway. Using inclusive, fun, and highly interactive techniques, participants worked together to build empathy across school communities; frame cohesive supports for students throughout their K-12 journey; and understand the different ways each site could meet needs and requirements.
By intentionally supporting participation with dates and times chosen by stakeholders, transportation, food, childcare, and interpreters, 818 stakeholders participated in 2,753 workshop hours, across 14 school pathways, and helped shape 68 building plans.
As a result of this intentionally inclusive and groundbreaking engagement work, SPPS has formalized its commitment to long-term and ongoing stakeholder engagement in facility planning – and the SPPS Board/Trustees recently approved $500 million in facility improvements over the next five years.
Project manager at Institut du Nouveau Monde, formerly with Acertys (now Hill + Knowlton)
How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?
I’ve been working in the field for over 5 years. I studied urban planning at the Masters level at McGill University in Montréal where I was instantly drawn to human-scale and participatory urban planning processes aimed to increase the appropriation of space by the user. I spent four years at Acertys, which specializes in community relations and public participation (now Hill + Knowlton). Currently, I’m a project manager at the Institut du Nouveau Monde, an organization whose mandate is to increase citizen participation in democratic life.
While working with Acertys, I had the chance to present (in collaboration with Ipsos Public Affairs) at the 2015 IAP2 North American Conference in Portland, on why Millennials are seem to be MIA (“Missing In Action”) from P2. We discussed research results regarding Millennials from different backgrounds to explore what young people consider to be P2, what factors influence their involvement, and how to better adapt our processes to hear young voices. I learned a great deal from the experience and have applied some of those key ideas in my own work. For example, if you want in-person consultation, go where the millennials are and blend with their busy lives; you have to empower them to be leaders in the P2 process by making information and expertise available and creating room for authentic, open dialogue.
The Institut du Nouveau Monde is recognized as a leader in youth engagement and debate on political and social issues. I’m looking forward to exploring new approaches to bring Millennials into the P2 processes.
What turned you on to P2 in the first place?
A lot of things. I have always been interested in seeing people become active in their communities and take ownership of their own neighbourhoods. Whether it’s developing a local walkability plan, looking at new ideas on urban agriculture or re-imagining the area around a Metro station, seeing citizens take part in those changes makes a city come alive.
I did my undergraduate studies in the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University, and I had the opportunity through my courses and projects to work with organizations that value community mobilization and social change. That opened my eyes to the idea of dialogue between citizens and officials; between experts and the users of a space.
One of the first P2 related projects I got to work on was a proposal for a project called “The Greening of MacKay”. This would have seen part of a street that runs through the Concordia campus turned into a green space for use by students during the summer. I did door-to-door consultation and interviews with local merchants and residents to see what the people involved felt about the proposal.
Did the plan go ahead?
Not entirely, but there have been initiatives to make the street more pedestrian-friendly – green spaces and vegetable planter boxes have been introduced where people can just sit and “be”. So seasonal “pedestrianization” didn’t happen, but the people had their say, and who knows what the future holds for that space?
Did the idea of “users as experts” seem new at the time?
My studies at the McGill School of Urban Planning served to legitimize the “user as expert” idea. It’s a very hands-on school and uses the city of Montréal as an urban laboratory, so we had many field-work projects in the city. One of my teachers, Lisa Bornstein, a pro-P2 mentor made sure that user-expert dialogue was a critical component of any urban planning process during our studio field work.
In the past decade, rapid development of social media and other technologies is also providing opportunities for citizens to take part in a whole new way. I think the expectation of the community to be meaningfully involved in decisions and projects that affect them has never been higher.
Have you had any “big wins”?
Just before I left Acertys, I carried out a mandate within the framework of a Programme Particulier d’Urbanisme (PPU – Specific Urban Redevelopment Project) for the Assomption neighbourhood in Montreal. We organized the preliminary consultation process entitled “Dessine-moi un quartier” – “Draw me a Neighbourhood” for which set up “drop-in” kiosks in busy places such as the Metro Station, local schools, and pedestrian areas. We used iPads to survey people on their ideas for the development they’d like to see.
We heard different ideas regarding public space, pedestrian and bike paths, the scale of new buildings, neighbourhood amenities, and employment.
There was a lot of potential for conflict around proposals for densification between long time property-owners and new investors. However when we ran two stakeholder design workshops, we were pleasantly surprised to see people having very constructive conversations. We underestimated the power of getting together face-to-face in a hands-on consultation process.
Right now, the process is in the hands of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (Montréal Public Consultation Office). There was a public opinion session earlier this month and a report should be coming out in April.
I also had a personal “big win” with an exciting opportunity a couple of years ago teaching a Master’s level class at McGill – the same program I had been in. McGill’s Planning school offers various principles and practices courses taught by professionals in the field, and a few of us at Acertys were invited to teach a class on stakeholder engagement, public participation and conflict mediation. We guided students in exploring some methods, techniques, and tools that are used in P2 process design and implementation.
It was interesting to see students whose shoes I was in a couple of years before, to walk them through hands-on practical course work, and to witness the growing importance of P2 in the academic world of Urban Planning.
If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …
I would say that the P2 field is one that can always be innovative. Like any profession, you can fall into old habits by “copy-pasting” a process that worked one time. P2 has to be approached case-by-case, always with fresh eyes and an open mind. It’s important to always adapt the process to different situations and audiences and to make the process accessible. An accessible process means not just physically but also open and adapted to those who have different ways of learning and different interests. Also, P2 should be fun!
P2 and the Global ‘Open Government’ Movement: Connections and Opportunities
Open Government and the Emergence of Open Dialogue
The term Open Government means different things to different people. Its meaning has also evolved over time. Initially, particularly in the 1980s when the push for what would become Freedom of Information legislation was gaining strength across western democracies, the term was used as a type of synonym for government transparency and accountability.
In those days, not unlike today, the term was aspirational in nature. It envisioned modern and progressive ‘open’ governments that would intentionally and freely share information on government activities including decision-making. Such open governments would no longer hide or hoard information – rather they would proactively share it, in a timely and transparent manner, to establish with voters/citizens that they were indeed accountable to them.
Over time, partially due to technological innovations, the idea of Open Government expanded to also include the concept of proactively sharing government data sets. The terms Open Information and Open Data soon found their way into the public administration lexicon.
The idea that governments should make their data sets freely available to the public – and to do so in machine-readable formats and without significant cost to users – became the new Open Government frontier. Open Data approaches, challenges, and technologies soon dominated most conversations about Open Government, although interest in Open Information also remained strong. Around this time, additional ideas about the true meaning of Open Government started to emerge or grow. Although always somewhat implicit in many definitions of ‘government openness’, the idea that ‘open governments’ were also ‘engaging and collaborative governments’ started to gain strength.
US President Obama’s 2009 Open Government Directive – seen by some as the initiative that established the standard for government openness around the globe, and which certainly propelled the Open Government movement forward, established that openness was about more than data and information dissemination when it described how governments needed to be ‘transparent, participatory and collaborative’. The 2011 Open Government Declaration of the Open Government Partnership – an international entity for government reformers committed to open governments and which now has 75 national members including Canada – clearly supports this expanded interpretation of openness when it calls for ‘greater civic participation in public affairs’ and outlines how open governments need to ‘empower citizens’.
With such developments, the term Open Dialogue (or Dialogue) joined the terms Open Information and Open Data in the discourse about Open Government. Open Government became referred to as a ‘three-legged stool’ with Dialogue being described as an essential leg. Today, some interpret the Open Dialogue term literally (i.e., an open government is one that engages in dialogue-based activities with its citizens). Some others, like me, interpret it more broadly (i.e., an open government is one that engages with citizens, and collaborates with stakeholder groups and interests, using any/all tools, technologies, methods, and approaches, including dialogue-based ones, considered appropriate and which are aligned with widely-accepted P2 (think: IAP2) values and standards). Put another way, P2 IS the third leg of the Open Government stool.
What has this got to do with us as P2 practitioners (or with IAP2)?
Open Government is a global movement and it is here to stay;
Many of the high-level goals of the Open Government movement are squarely aligned with those of the P2 movement including: informed, aware, and engaged citizens; enhanced and accountable government decision-making; community empowerment; inclusion, equity, and justice; and participatory democracy;
A major dimension of Open Government – indeed one of its three key ‘pillars’ – relates directly to our work; IAP2 holds a tremendous amount of expertise on all things related to P2 including those involving: dialogue; stakeholder, community, and citizen engagement; and collaboration involving civil society, business/industry, academic and government entities;
Our expertise in P2 is also directly relevant to the Open Data and Open Information pillars of Open Government; this is because data and information disclosure efforts are meant to be responsive to citizen, community and stakeholder needs and interests, and this requires appropriate P2 interventions;
We can help the global Open Government movement; many of us are involved now, but more is possible; people active in that movement, from both within government (public servants) and outside of government (civil society leaders), can benefit from our knowledge, skill, and experience;
We need more government people to join IAP2 (especially those in senior roles given so few are currently members); a huge amount of our collective P2 work directly or indirectly involves governments; government people have a lot to teach us about P2 and Open Government; all of us can all benefit from enhanced cross-sector learning, sharing, and networking.
What does this have to do with you?
Take the time to tell/remind your colleagues, friends, and family members who work in governments about the IAP2. Ask them to join us as members. When giving them your 30-second ‘elevator pitch’, use the term ‘Open Government’. Remind them that IAP2 and its members have important expertise that is directly related to one of the three pillars of the Open Government movement. Tell them about the many learning, networking, and skill-building opportunities available to them via IAP2. Tell them we need them. Don’t forget to tell them how much fun we are to be around.
February 1, 2017 – The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2 Federation) is now accepting applications from individuals in the field of public engagement who are interested in becoming licensed to deliver the IAP2 international training program, Foundations in Public Participation.
The Train-the-Trainer (T3) program has been refreshed during the past year with the guidance of SBM Consultants (Canada) and IAP2 volunteer Steering Committee members: Jan Bloomfield, Anne Carroll, Kylie Cochrane, Anne Harding, Gale Simpson, and Erika Du Plessis, along with input from subject matter experts among the IAP2 training community.
Candidates in the new T3 program, working through the process in a cohort led by experienced IAP2 Foundations Instructors, will develop a thorough understanding of the Foundations course content and principles of adult education, hone their skills and delivery techniques via in-person training and practice sessions, acquire practical experience co-training with an IAP2 Licensed Trainer, and receive mentoring support through their first year as a Trainer.
“IAP2 recognizes there are growing opportunities for advancing the practice of public participation internationally. The IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation program is a key element of the strategy to accomplish the mission of IAP2,” said Noreen Rude, IAP2 Federation Presiding Member.
The objectives of the T3 program are to serve current and new markets, expand the reach to practitioners who speak a language other than English, and benefit IAP2 members by ensuring the availability of high quality, effective public participation training around the world. Applications for the first cohort are being accepted through March 31, 2017 for training to begin in mid-June 2017. The complete packet of materials including the Candidate Handbook and Application are available for download on the IAP2.org webpage How to Become an IAP2 Trainer.
Applications for Trainer Candidates are due by 31 March 2017.
Interested in becoming an IAP2 Licensed Trainer? Do you have questions about the application? Join one of our upcoming webinar sessions to learn more!
IAP2 Federation is organizing webinars for applicants who are interested in learning more about the Trainer Licensing Program for the Foundations in Public Participation course.
The purpose is to share more information about the process and provide an opportunity for applicants to ask questions.
In order to reach potential applicants across many time zones around the world, IAP2 is offering three sessions (same content):
Session A – March 7 at 11:00 AM PST (UTC-8)
Session B – March 8 at 10:00 AM WIB (UTC+7)
Session C – March 8 at 3:00 PM SAST/EET (UTC+2)
For further information or questions about the IAP2 Train-the-Trainer program, contact Cassandra Hemphill, IAP2 Federation Professional Development Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general information about IAP2, contact Ellen Ernst, IAP2 Federation Executive Manager at email@example.com.
About IAP2 IAP2 is an international association of members who seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation in relation to individuals, governments, institutions, and other entities that affect the public interest in nations throughout the world. IAP2 carries out its mission by organizing and conducting activities to:
Serve the learning needs of members through events, publications, and communication technology;
Advocate for public participation throughout the world;
Promote a results-oriented research agenda and use research to support educational and advocacy goals;
Provide technical assistance to improve public participation.
MONTREAL ENCORE: Making Engagement Meaningful with P2 Toolkits
In your P2 career, are there times when being the professional is almost a hindrance to meaningful engagement? You could walk into a situation where the community is skeptical that a process will be fair and honest, or find that staff are more involved than you’re able to accommodate, or any of a number of other situations.
One solution is to develop P2 Toolkits. These are specialized “packages” of resources that can be provided to “non-professionals” to help them with their engagement efforts. Based on their presentation at the IAP2 North American Conference last September, Cristelle Blackford of CivicMakers, Abby Monroe of the City of Chicago and Zane Hamm, educator and research associate with the Centre for Public Involvement in Edmonton discussed how toolkits have worked in three individual projects.
Cristelle explained how people in Elk Grove, a community just outside Sacramento, California, have guarded their rural lifestyle and atmosphere, and have lately found it threatened by an influx of young families with an urban bent. A proposal to improve mobility in the area – including sidewalks and bike lanes – ran into opposition from those concerned it represented the beginning of a suburban takeover of the rural area; there was also skepticism about the outreach process.
Cristelle’s team determined that the best way to reach out to people in the community would be through other members of the community; that neighbours talking to neighbours would ensure the engagement was meaningful. So they assembled the toolkit that included project information, outreach templates and forms for reporting back. A very plain style was chosen: one that would be more trusted in the community.
Ten “street teams” contacted 115 households – about 95% of the target area – and Cristelle says that’s more than professional consultants could have reached. In the end, the community came up with a mobility approach that focused on what was deemed to be the more immediate issue – street safety – with other work to come later. In the process, community members felt ownership over the process and trust was restored between the community and the City.
The City of West Hollywood had a different situation: staff across the board were eager to engage with the public on all manner of issues across departments, but outreach efforts to date had been disjointed. It was necessary to provide them with the tools to do it and consistent messaging that would work no matter what the topic.
Abby Monroe described how that toolkit was put together: elaborate, colourful materials designed by a graphic artist. Brochures, “playing cards”, posters and other resources were packaged and distributed to the various departments, and training was provided. The result was an involved and engaged staff, an enthusiasm for higher-quality public participation and a consistent city voice across departments.
And then, there is the DIY Engage! toolkit. Developed by the Centre for Public Involvement, this grew out of a need identified by organizations for something to address barriers to participation and make the public engagement process more inclusive by putting equitable outreach design in the hands of community members. Zane Hamm explained this is designed to be an open-source toolkit with resources to enable anyone to facilitate a process in familiar spaces and with culturally-relevant resources. The toolkit is currently being reviewed by leadership students for version 2.0 – an interactive game.
This toolkit includes interactive materials such as a guide book to lead a group through the experiential process of designing a public engagement or initiative, and two sets of cards – one set, putting forward challenges to engagement, with the flip-side putting forward solutions. The second set of cards, “Check Your Knowledge”, highlights terms and facts related to the topic. “Perspective” buttons, designed to understand different points of view, encourage creative thinking to solve the problems identified.
IAP2 Canada members can watch the recording of the webinar, and get access to some of the resources mentioned here. Note that Cristelle, Abby and Zane are inviting comments, questions and experiences you might have had with toolkits, yourself.