By Lauren Cobb, Southern California Emerging Chapter
Awareness of the need for and commitment to enhancing public engagement has been quietly growing in California for some time. Recently, California’s State Assembly formed its first Select Committee on Civic Engagement, chaired by the Assembly Member for the 13th District, Susan Talamantes Eggman. The committee’s first hearing was held December 18th, 2015 in Sacramento.
Boldly, Assembly Member Eggman convened the second hearing, held on May 13th, in Southern California at the Los Angeles Public Library’s Downtown location. The hearing offered a remarkable opportunity for members of IAP2 USA’s Emerging Southern California Chapter to attend and meet with policymakers and influencers who are thinking and planning for a more engaged California public.
Steve Boilard of the Center for California Studies, who facilitated a lunch discussion at the IAP2 USA 2016 Skills Symposium this past February, and Sarah Rubin of the Institute for Local Government presented on the opening panel describing an overview of civic engagement in California.
Grayce Liu, Director of the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, and Pete Peterson of the Davenport Institute, who have both supported LA’s emerging chapter from the beginning, presented on the second panel, Local and Neighborhood Efforts, offering their powerful experiences cultivating more involved communities in Los Angeles and California at large, respectively.
The day’s presentations testified to growing awareness and resources in California for supporting improved and expanded civic engagement – both from the Public and from our public servants. If you are interested in seeing the recorded video of the hearing you can view it here and you can follow the efforts of Assembly member Eggman on her website and Facebook page.
Following SFMTA and the City of Menlo Park, the City of Oakland has joined IAP2 USA, bringing NorCal close to 100 members! This makes IAP2 NorCal the largest and the fastest-growing IAP2 chapter in the United States. This is a great time to join! If you have friends and colleagues working in public participation, please spread the word!
April 23: Open Office Hour
Learn more about IAP2 USA! Get your chapter-related questions answered or get involved! Call in and say hi!
April 30: Paradigm Shift: How Facilitators Are Accelerating Their Practice Through Recent Developments on Audience Polling Systems, San Francisco
From the checkout line to customer service phone systems, our opinions are constantly being sought. Yet most in-person meetings don’t use instant polling technology. Dr. David Campt (@racedoctor), a public engagement specialist with over 20 years in the field, has written the first book about using audience response devices outside the classroom. In a combination of a speech and a demonstration of the technology, Dr. Campt will make the case why early adopters of polling technology will have definite advantages in creating meetings that are more engaging to participants and productive to clients.
Co-hosted with the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD).
Light refreshments will be served. Space is very limited!
May 7: “Facebook for Community Engagement” in Menlo Park
Co-hosted with the City of Menlo Park. Light refreshments will be served!
– By Lance Robertson
Member spotlight is a frequent feature of the IAP2 USA newsletter. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, please email Lance Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Briefly introduce yourself. Who are you, and what do you do?
I am the Director of Strategic Accounts for GovDelivery. I started with GovDelivery way back in February of 2015 :-). My job at GovDelivery is to consult with its different teams (Sales, Marketing, Product, Implementation, Customer Service, etc.) to help drive more new partnerships with local and state government. So, essentially what that means is that I help government public information officers, communications directors, public participation professionals and others leverage the internet (the cloud, the web, whatever you wanna call it) to execute their successful communications strategies.
Many folks know me because of the work I did from 2005-2014 with another cloud services company – Granicus. Prior to that, from 2000-2005, I was the head technology officer for Public Systems Associates, the IT outfit for the Louisiana Legislature.
So, essentially, I’ve devoted my entire career to helping government agencies leverage technology in the most productive and useful way possible – particularly when it comes to getting information from inside government out into the hands of citizens.
I was born and raised outside of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in a very, very small town. I received my Electrical Engineering degree from Tennessee Tech University.
How long have you been a member of IAP2? How did you first hear about the organization?
I officially joined last month! I’ve been involved with IAP2 since I attended the North American Conference two years ago in Salt Lake City as a technology vendor.
In your day-to-day public participation or community outreach work, what gives you the most satisfaction?
I get the most satisfaction when I see a press release from one of my customers informing the public about a service they are offering to help the public be better connected to their government. I can say “I was a part of that!”, and that’s super cool for me personally. Knowing I helped them make the decision to do something and it was successful!
What are the biggest challenges you’ve found in doing this kind of work?
I get really frustrated when I talk with someone in charge of public participation or communications and they say, “I’m happy with how we do things today.” They are not being open to doing it better. We should always be open to giving our citizens better services with their tax dollars.
Why did you decide to get more involved in IAP2?
I see how communications and public participation professionals love their jobs, and I have seen how helping government use technology better can make people feel more connected to their government. To use it to help get the public to take part in the decision-making process of government… that’s the most rewarding!
In several parts of the country, there is interest building in re-launching or re-building chapters to connect local folks on the ground. What’s your vision for the Northern California chapter? What kinds of things are going on there?
Too early to tell… but it feels like that we have the unique opportunity here to partner with a lot of tech businesses that want to help engage with the public, and our place will be to bring them together with public participation professionals and guide them so the tools we develop and use are ones that will actually work.
What are your off-work passions and interests? What do you like to do for fun?
I play the piano, and I sing… I do a lot of this for community service to organizations in San Francisco that are in need. I am a part of the San Francisco Ducal Court, which is a group of mostly entertainers that perform to raise money for many LGBT organizations in San Francisco.
Anything else you want to add?
I’m very excited to become more involved in my Northern California Chapter. My life passion has been to help governments utilize technology to achieve a more representative democracy built on trust between citizens and government. IAP2 can be a critical part of this very important goal, and I’m excited to be of service!
Over the past year, IAP2 NorCal, the Northern California chapter of IAP2 USA, has seen a sharp increase in activity. Driven by a small and growing team of volunteers, the chapter – under the leadership of chapter co-chair and IAP2 USA Board member Tim Bonnemann – hosted more events in 2014 than in the past six years combined and has more than doubled the size of its network year over year.
Earlier this month, IAP2 NorCal organized a practitioner get-together in Sacramento, CA, the first IAP2 event in the state’s capital in over a decade. Turn-out was great, and there appears to be a lot of energy for more activities in the future. Work with local partners has already begun to explore opportunities for more programming and events in the greater Sacramento region later this year, as the chapter continues to expand its coverage of Northern California beyond the San Francisco Bay Area.
A number of high-profile events are in the works for 2015, both in person and online. Likely topics include:
- Public engagement around California water issues
- Facebook for public participation
- The state of e-voting
- Crowdsourcing in the policy making context
The chapter also plans to dramatically increase the number of informal opportunities for members and friends to meet in person on a regular basis, including lunch and breakfast meetings and evening get-togethers alongside upcoming training events.
The IAP2 NorCal chapter just announced their next in-person event:
High Tech, High Touch: Using Technology for Effective Engagement Online and Offline
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
SPUR Urban Center
654 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-4015
For program details and to RSVP online, please check the event page.
The IAP2 NorCal chapter has a great event lined up next week:
IAP2 NorCal: Broadening Participation with Digital Engagement
Thursday, April 24, 2014
from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM (PDT)
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)
Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter (across the street from the Lake Merritt BART Station)
101 Eighth Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Details and RSVP
A light dinner will be served, thanks to our sponsor, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
We have 30 people signed up, including quite a few from local government agencies.
Should be fun!
The IAP2 NorCal chapter is thrilled to welcome Russell Hancock, CEO Joint Venture Silicon Valley, this Thursday, February 27 for our second “virtual brown bag” session of the year:
The State of the Valley is Silicon Valley’s annual “town meeting” hosted by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and co-sponsored by Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The event convenes the entire region – concerned citizens and stakeholders, thought leaders and opinion makers, journalists, our elected representatives, educators and academics, business executives, labor and workforce leaders – for dialogue and discussion about the Valley’s challenges and opportunities.
To inform the discussion, the event’s principal analytical tool is the Silicon Valley Index, a nationally recogized publication that has been telling the Silicon Valley story since 1995. The indicators measure the strength of Silicon Valley’s economy and the health of its community, highlighting challenges and providing a data-rich foundation for decision making.
During this conference call, Russell Hancock will provide a brief overview of various in-person audience engagement methods the event organizers have applied in the past, and we’ll discuss what public participation opportunities he sees going forward.
Our virtual brown bags are designed for the busy professional. A brief 8-minute talk is followed by open Q&A. We share background information and related materials ahead of time so the conversation can focus on the important stuff.
Please head to the event page for details and RSVP.