WEBINAR REWIND: Core Values Award Winners – Respect for Diversity, Inclusion and Culture – March 14, 2017
This award was presented for the first time in both Canada and the USA last year, and the winners faced decidedly different circumstances for which they had to respect diversity.
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:
- 32% Asian-American
- 30% African-American
- 22% White
- 14% Latino
- 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.
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.
By Lauren Wirtis, IAP2 USA Intern
Lulu Feliciano is the Outreach Manager at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). “We oversee transit, parking, traffic, bike lanes, anything that happens on the street regarding mobility.” Lulu first learned about IAP2 three years ago when she was able to get a seat at the City Planning Department’s five-day IAP2 Foundations course. The messages and tools presented in the course (the core values, the spectrum, etc.) struck a chord. Lulu had completed the SFMTA’s Transit Effectiveness Project, during which there was a fair amount of public upset about the redistribution of transit service. “The pain we were going through was beyond transit.” It was clear the community was not feeling heard.
After the IAP2 Foundations course, it was clear that SFMTA needed to create a standardized and streamlined approach to outreach. The agency worked with a variety of stakeholders, conducted numerous focus groups and interviews (both internally and externally) to understand how the public wanted to be engaged and the best way for SFMTA to accommodate those needs. Along with Deanna Desedas, Lulu helped develop Public Outreach and Engagement Team Strategy (POETS), which would eventually mandate that projects requiring a certain number of hours be assigned a public information officer.
That was just the beginning. In 2015, the pre-construction phase for the Van Ness Improvement Project began, in which two miles of the densely developed street were going to be renovated to accommodate a new bus rapid transit service in the middle of the street. Lulu and her team were determined to “engage and inform” the community, which included residents, business owners, and the hundreds of thousands of people that traveled to and through this street on a daily basis. Lulu used IAP2 principles to help create the engagement strategy, which included:
- The City of San Francisco’s first pre-construction survey
- The Van Ness Business Advisory Committee
- Interactive Text Message Campaign
- Project Overview Walking Tours
- Meet the Expert Speaker Series
2016 IAP2 USA Core Values Project Award for Creativity and Innovation: Van Ness Improvement Project
“The fact that this project is now serving as a model and inspiration for further innovation and advances
in the organization’s public participation practices is further testament to the value of this project.”
—IAP2 USA 2016 Core Values Awards Panel of Judges
“Van Ness was the first project to apply IAP2 principles. Now we apply them to all projects small or large.” P2 is equally important throughout the lifecycle of a project, from planning to construction to implementation. Reflecting back on the SFMTA’s P2 journey Lulu noted:
“Sometimes it’s through challenges, mistakes, and heartaches that you really learn your lesson. Now most everybody is mindful of good P2. I realize it’s more difficult, that it requires more time and more resources, but it brings better outcomes.”
Lulu says the biggest challenge of doing this kind of work is trying to balance public versus agency needs, especially in long-term planning. Trying to plan for 20-30 years in the future can seem gratuitous compared to the issues facing the community every day. Sometimes larger goals struggle to meet on-the-ground realities. “We can eliminate parking so that other vehicles can move around, but we have to be realistic that some people need cars. There’s no magic bullet for this stuff.”
One of the most important parts of her job is working with communities of concern and “engaging with them to make sure they have a voice at the table.” Lulu regularly relies on her IAP2 Foundations training as well as what she learned in the Designing for Diversity class: “The loud voices will be heard. It’s the quiet, more silent voices you need to elevate and pull up.”
Read more about the Van Ness Improvement Project in SFMTA’s 2016 IAP2 Core Values Awards Application.
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? 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 three Project Categories:
- General Project
- Creativity and Innovation
- Respect for Diversity, Inclusion and Culture
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 the IAP2 Federation Core Values Awards against winning projects from other worldwide Affiliates.
Applications are being taken now through May 10, so visit the Core Values Awards webpage 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, Colorado..
Need inspiration? Check out past winners by going to the Core Values Award webpage and scrolling to the bottom – learn from 2014, 2015, 2016 winners and more!
Growing A National Community
Every day, our community of practice is growing stronger. Here’s three examples
First, you have a nation-wide board. In February, your IAP2 USA Board of Directors met in San Diego, joining us from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Portland, Oregon and everywhere in between. We are gaining strength by drawing together more regions across the country. That nation-wide perspective makes our insights and strategies more focused and informed. It was truly a joy to have (almost) all of our board members in the same place, rather than online where we do the majority of our work! There was a lot of great energy in the room.
Second, you are part of a national community. Our board’s reach across the country is also reflected in our membership which is nearing 1000. Our organization is experiencing tremendous growth and we are gaining a broad range of new members – from full-time P2 practitioners to decision-maker staff who engage with the public for a small percentage of their overall workload. Our membership is the community that you’re part of, and we are all uniting around the core values, ethics and skills that bring quality P2 to important decisions.
Third, we have launched a national conversation. To focus all of us on quality P2 as a community, we launched a new conversation in San Diego that will be replicated throughout the nation. This conversation is about whether we are facing a P2 crisis or opportunity at the national level. It’s about testing the current refrain that we are a divided country and positioning P2 as a uniting force, a value we share and have always shared. The end of this dialogue focused on how we, as practitioners, decision-makers, and participants can lead a positive and constructive way forward based on the Core Values. At this first of many dialogues, through use of the World Café and Card Storming techniques, the 50+ participants discussed current challenges to P2 work, their effects and how we can support quality P2 in our communities. We’re interested to learn how the local and regional dynamics can change the conversation.
We expect the conversation to continue in many locations including San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, Wyoming and more. Ideas will be shared across IAP2 USA’s network of over 2,000 members and friends, as well as at the North American Conference this September. So keep an eye on your chapter newsletters for an opportunity to engage in this conversation in your area and then be sure to join us in Denver in September.
Introducing Lauren Wirtis!
Lauren is a recent addition to the IAP2 USA community, becoming a member in January of 2017! We are also excited to announce that Lauren is our 2017 Intern. Welcome to the IAP2 USA community!
Lauren became a planner because she is passionate about P2. She is interested in what people think about the places they live, what changes they would like to see, and how to get more people involved in their communities.
Lauren recalled a time she took part in a series of open houses that were engaging the community around ways to reutilize a 35-acre waterfront property. During one meeting, community members had the opportunity to talk to Lauren about ideas they thought had been left out of the redevelopment options. Some of these ideas were included in the presentation at the next meeting. People were excited to see their ideas up on the screen. One woman in particular approached Lauren saying, “That was my idea! That’s the thing we talked about!” She showed up to every meeting for the rest of the project.
At the end of the day, “it’s that moment where people feel like they are making a decision about their own lives. A shift in their perception of their own abilities.”
Lauren is a Planner at Maul Foster & Alongi, an environmental consulting firm helping communities with brownfield remediation and redevelopment in the Pacific Northwest. Like many areas across the U.S., former mills and industrial development sites in the Pacific Northwest were tied to rivers and waterways. Now shut down, these sites create unique challenges to sustainability and economic development in local communities. As a planner, Lauren helps these communities figure out how to investigate these sites for contamination and develop short- and long-range plans for remediation that include the community vision and lay out the ordinances the communities can adopt to inform future development. “Participation in decision-making should be accessible, honest, and truly impact the outcome.”
“As a planner in community development, I see my role as the facilitator and interpreter,
translating between the world of public policy and the experiences of everyday life.”
In Lauren’s experience, the biggest barriers to quality P2 are funding and time. Being efficient without sacrificing the end product is a tenuous balance. “I don’t bill for a minute more than necessary. Funding is hard to come by. Design standards are high, and we work hard to meet those standards without losing anyone in the process.” The amount of time and funding it takes to reach a truly representative group of a local community is, unfortunately, not always feasible. This can leave people feeling like they weren’t fully engaged or listened to, and being able to amplify the voice of those who have historically been silent is empowering to the community, and rewarding to those facilitating the conversation.
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 USA 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.
Reposted from IAP2 Canada
I think it is safe to say that the national political context is influencing public participation and decision-making processes across the country. Involvement is happening in a number of ways that are hard to miss – the Women’s March on Washington, the recent Town Hall meetings with elected officials and new groups like @USIndivisible, @TheKindnessMovement, and @AltNationalParkService. Engagement abounds.
While it is exciting to see so many people engaging in democracy for the first time, much of this engagement is inspired by a decline in trust of government and an increase in resistance, fear and anger. If public participation is something we have in common and operates against what potentially divides us, its capacity to be a shared norm is surely being tested in this time of high conflict and uncertainty.
Truly, events at the national level are changing the ways people engage in our democracy at all levels. As individuals, we may be asking ourselves whether our country is irreparably divided; whether we are still able to make good decisions together; and what might our role be in this context as a P2 practitioner, process owner, and/or stakeholder.
IAP2’s Core Values are based on shared premises of Democracy. Fundamentally, we believe that decisions made together have the potential to be stronger and more informed, as well as have lasting benefits well beyond the decision itself in terms of restoring trust and relationships So how can we lead a positive, constructive way forward based on our Core Values and skills?
We’re beginning the conversation by hosting a World Café session at the upcoming San Diego Skills Symposium to explore these questions and define a way forward. Join IAP2 USA Board members, local experts, Symposium trainers and participants for a World Café exploring these questions Monday, February 27 at the IAP2 USA Skills Symposium, Bahia.
|Date: Monday, February 27th from 5:30 – 7:00
Location: Bahia Resort Hotel, Del Mar Room
Event flyer – Pass it on!
Your input will create action steps for IAP2 USA, practitioners, decision-makers and individuals. As a first-of-its kind session, what we learn here will inform decisions about how IAP2 USA can best have this conversation at a national level. Ideas will also be shared through IAP2 USA’s national network of nearly 1,000 members, and in outreach via local chapters and IAP2’s international network.
Make a difference right now and join us. Register here.
This event is made possible by the hard work and engagement of IAP2 USA Board members Cathy Smith, Kit Cole, Wendy Lowe and P2 practitioner Lewis Michaelson. I would like to thank them and our sponsors: The Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University, Cityworks, Kit Cole Consulting, Katz & Associates, P2 Solutions and Somers-Jaramillo + Associates for supporting this important conversation.
Thank you sponsors!!!