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Posts Tagged ‘community engagement’

President’s Message – Leah Jaramillo

November 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Leah Jaramillo

There was a lot of fear in the room at a recent community organizing meeting I attended – fear about our political system, the ramifications of the recent election, and more generally, a perceived lack of knowledge on how to engage. As the group discussed ways that people could affect real change in their local communities and more broadly, a woman asked how she could get more involved in decisions that affected her.

Despite having practiced P2 for more than a decade, it was still surprising for me to see just how many people had little to no understanding of the opportunities to influence decisions happening all around them. I was similarly surprised to learn about the large number of Americans (over 90 million eligible voters) who simply did not vote in this year’s election.

In recent weeks I’ve heard a great deal of concern about how the new political climate may cause a potential chilling effect on our practice and on people’s ability to express themselves. I believe the opposite to be true.

This is the time for Americans of all stripes to come together, participate and share their voices. This is a time for dialogue, a time to build understanding, and a time to engage in topics we are passionate about. As P2 practitioners, there is no better time to ensure we are engaging for diversity and inclusion. This is a time to reflect on our own experiences and improve our practice.

I encourage each of you to engage with your chapters and your peers to share stories, compare notes, and find ways to broaden the practice, to make it more accessible, and help all Americans share their voices.

Member Spotlight: Traci Ethridge

September 13, 2016 Leave a comment
Traci Ethridge

Traci Ethridge

Traci Ethridge, Assistant Director of Corporate Communications & Marketing for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, first learned about IAP2 from colleagues who had attended the IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation program. “I was part of a working group tasked with examining how the city was engaging with the community and developing an overall strategy moving forward. We wanted to make sure that we were bridging the gap between the community and local government. Our organization has success around a lot of projects and initiatives and we wanted to implement a standard practice such as the IAP2 Spectrum.” The Spectrum will become the foundation to community engagement planning and a key piece in shaping the city’s overall strategy.

The City of Charlotte was one of the first municipalities to take advantage of the IAP2 USA Government Membership program when it was introduced in January 2015. “We definitely saw it as an investment in the direction we were moving and wanted to make IAP2 resources accessible throughout our organization. As we continue to engage the community in initiatives like the Community Investment Plan, we recognize that various projects can be in different places on the Spectrum. The important thing is that the community engagement plans begin with a high level overview of the Spectrum and the understanding that we are connecting with the community throughout the life cycle of the project.”

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the city conducted a series of community meetings to begin planning efforts for the Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT). “The team decided to organize pop-up meetings to engage with the community and this method proved to be very successful. They attended neighborhood meetings, participated in weekly bike rides and connected with people at local festivals and events at locations along the proposed trail route.” This spring the trail project was awarded the Region of Excellence Award by the Centralina Council of Governments.

 

 

For the City of Charlotte, community engagement isn’t just about planning capital improvement projects. It’s about reaching people, listening and even tackling tough, sensitive issues impacting the community. The work being done by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) is a great example. An initiative called Cops & Barbers provided a forum for open, honest dialogue on police and race relations in the African American community. It is an opportunity to meet people where they are and where they routinely go (the barber shop) and start a conversation between officers and people of all ages in the community. Last year, CMPD partnered with the North Carolina Local Barbershop Association to coordinate town hall meetings throughout Charlotte. The program was recognized by the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. A simple, yet impactful idea turned into a form of community engagement that brings diverse groups together.

“It is exciting to see the connection grow between our organization and the community we serve. We have a unique opportunity to effectively engage with our community through many platforms and cover a variety of topics that matter to those who live, work and play in our city. I look forward to seeking out ways to incorporate more of the IAP2 Spectrum into all aspects of our engagement.”

Traci volunteered to serve on the IAP2 USA Communications Committee in 2016, and has gotten involved in the organization’s communications planning initiative. “IAP2 USA is committed to helping organizations figure out where they are on the Spectrum and helping them be successful with their community engagement initiatives. I’ve learned so much from other committee members and from members in other cities who are trying new things and engaging in different ways. IAP2 USA is a perfect fit for what we’re doing here at the City of Charlotte.”

And she’s excited about bringing community engagement to the next level at the city. “There are people who do some form of community engagement in every department. Whether it’s employees out in the field, project managers, city leaders or elected officials, there is interaction with the public on a daily basis. As an organization, we want to engage, build relationships and actively collaborate with the community.”

Traci is hoping to reconvene the working group to look at embedding P2 in the city’s overall strategy for planning and delivering city services. “We’re seeing the positive impacts when we listen to what matters to the community and bring back what we’ve learned. Now I want to look more holistically at how we put all of the pieces together to establish community engagement at the core of everything we do.”

Traci recognizes the city can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach, but is asking questions around “What does engagement look like from an overall standpoint? Are we hitting the target to engage effectively? Are we being intentional about looking for ways to engage the community?” While these questions will be answered over time, she sees the IAP2 Spectrum as the foundation to build a lasting strategy for engagement.

Join the conversation! UNC CELE invites IAP2 USA members to respond to recently released resources posted to assist with improving relations between the police and black communities

August 31, 2016 Leave a comment

The University of North Carolina School of Government Community Engagement Learning Exchange (CELE) recently released three resources to help public participation professionals plan for highly charged community conversations around policing in black communities. Read the resources and share your experience via the comments.

“…we can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their son leaves the house isn’t so different than what a brave cop’s family feels when he puts on the blue and goes to work, that we can honor police and treat every community fairly. We can do that… acknowledging problems that have festered for decades isn’t making race relations worse, it’s creating the possibility for people of goodwill to join and make things better.”  —President Barack Obama

 

 

CELE Resources

 

  • Steps for Working on Police-Community Relations – Where do we Start? – Learning about structural racism, engaging communities of color in authentic conversations, and demonstrating a commitment to action (more than just talk) are good starting points to helping communities address the inequities that have led to the current climate of mistrust, published August 3, 2016.

Be part of the solution. Share the wisdom in the room by adding your comments today. Then subscribe to the CELE blog to continue the conversation.

“Racial inequity is not simply a black person’s problem, nor a white person’s ignorance. It’s a systemic issue that permeates all aspects of our society, especially the criminal justice system and particularly law enforcement who are on the front line of heightened tensions.”  —Chief District Court Judge Marcia H. Morey, Durham County North Carolina

The CELE blog was featured in the October 2015 IAP2 USA webinar on “Getting Engaged – Staying Engaged”

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#BlackLivesMatter

WEBINAR REWIND: January – Core Values Award Winners Part 1: Organizations of the Year

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment

webinars2As that famous P2 consultant, Amy Grant, once sang, “It takes a little time to turn the Titanic around”. The co-presenters in our January Learning Webinar both had to turn some pretty heavy ships around in promoting a culture of engagement where there had been none before.

2015 IAP2 USA and IAP2 Canada Core Values Award Winners

The St. Vrain “team”, receiving their 2015 Core Values Award in Portland. Superintendent Dr. Don Haddad is at far left; Laura McDonald is third from right; Damon Brown is at far right.

The City of Victoria and the St. Vrain Valley School District (Colorado) were named Organizations of the Year for Canada and the USA, respectively, at the 2015 IAP2 Core Values Awards last fall in Portland. Both have had to overcome internal trepidation and external cynicism to achieve that status, and the results can be seen in ways ranging from increased involvement in engagement processes to support for public-spending initiatives.

St. Vrain Valley Schools also had to let go of “control” over issues in order to improve its public engagement. Laura McDonald, a mother of two girls in the system, got involved when she realized that a $10 – 14 million budget shortfall declared before her children started school had not been addressed by the time they were of school age. She heard all the doom-and-gloom talk about the shortfall, but more ominously, also about the skepticism.

According to the District’s Communications Director, Damon Brown, conflict-driven media, polarization and a history of “announce and defend” decision-making led to a wide mistrust of decision-makers; that led to a mill levy override, which would have provided for teachers’ salaries and instructional programs, being voted down in 2005. In 2008, 85 teachers were laid off and the District had no supplementary funding.

Shortly after that, a new superintendent came on the scene. Dr. Don Haddad seized on the concepts of P2 – particularly the Core Values – and launched an aggressive campaign of his own to engage with the people. In a relatively short time, he and other district staff members built trust relationships. “Leadership St. Vrain”* was launched, bringing parents and members of the community not directly involved with the school system into the mix, educating them on the “Know-How” (the business of education) and “Know-Who” (the key decision-makers) of the district.

In the process, the District, its administrators and teachers – many of whom are seasoned educators with a measure of bias against letting non-experts help make decisions – released ownership of the problems they faced.

The result: A $189-million bond measure and a $16.5-million mill levy override both passed in 2008. Another $14.8-million mill levy override passed in 2012.

The increased P2 capacity is credited with other results, especially academic achievement. Damon Brown says there has been an upward trend in standardized test scores, increases in the graduation rate and the number of scholarships awarded; and a decline in the dropout rate.

Not incidentally, St. Vrain Valley Schools was also named 2015 Organization of the Year by the entire IAP2 Federation.

Turning that big ship around, Damon Brown points out, takes more than legislation: It takes a change in thinking and habits. Both St. Vrain Valley Schools and the City of Victoria have not only accomplished that on the inside of their organizations, but the results are palpable on the outside.

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Katie Hamilton and Julie Potter, 2015 Core Values Awards

Katie Hamilton, City of Victoria Director of Citizen Engagement, arrived at City Hall 10 years ago to find there was no policy or template governing public participation and that any “engagement” was an after-thought. Public input did not guide the projects, and citizens were often surprised when a major project was announced. There were customer-service barriers and, despite Victoria’s growing reputation as a high-tech center, the website was out-dated. What’s more, discussions tended to focus on the cost of something, rather than its value.

That led to the public becoming skeptical to the point of hostility when decisions were made or projects were announced. But over the past decade, city staff have grown to “embrace the clunky” – that is, step into the difficult discussions, become the facilitator for these conversations and let go of “control” over issues. City departments are also working closer together as a unit, rather than in silos, independent of one another. “Great ideas sessions” are regular occurrences.

Some of the tactics include “going to where the people are”. Information and input facilities regarding parks issues were set up in the parks themselves; a pop-up open house was set up on a bicycle trailer, going to fairs, markets, furniture stores, coffee shops, new mothers’ clubs, you name it. In City budget mail-outs at tax time, infographics have replaced pie charts to indicate how one’s money is spent.

Can you measure a shift in culture? Here’s one indicator: Attendance at City budget meetings has gone from a group of 30 highly-interested people to over 1,500, with amenities like food provided by local growers creating a lighter atmosphere.

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* Winner, IAP2 USA Research Project of the Year, 2014 Core Values Awards

Schedule tight? Looking for a break? Recharge your P2 batteries and extend your stay!

December 9, 2015 Leave a comment

sunWhether you’re within driving distance or a short flight away, these one-day training options may be just the ticket for your busy schedule! The 2016 Skill Symposium offers one, two and three-day workshops designed to meet your professional development needs.

What’s more – if you can work it in – extend your stay! Bring the family to sunny San Diego for the weekend to take advantage of the special conference rate – $139.00/nightavailable through the weekend!

rejuvenate

Engaging with Influence
Increase your influence with key decision-makers!

Join IAP2 Licensed Foundations trainer Michelle Feenan from Queensland, Australia and New Zealand’s Anne Pattillo, an international leader in the art of engagement and participation, in this one-day exploration of how to build your professional credibility and increase the uptake of your professional advice.

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Build your understanding of the professional standards for ethical practice
  • Build your credibility for genuine engagement
  • Work with status practice new approaches to be influential by tailoring your approach to the decision-making style of the key people in your network
  • Practice the six critical engagement conversations build accountability and commitment

Add Engaging with Influence to your public participation toolbox to create sustainable results.

Engaging with Influence | 2016 Skills Symposium | #Top

Engagement Evaluation
Learn how to embed evaluation into your public participation and engagement projects or initiatives.

Join Anne Pattillo, workshop co-designer with participatory evaluation expert Dr. Jess Dart, and IAP2 Licensed Foundations trainer Michelle Feenan from Queensland, Australia in this one-day exploration of the principles and tools to design an evaluation of public participation and engagement projects or initiatives.

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Understand how to scope an engagement evaluation and design an evaluation framework
  • Understand the role of key evaluation questions and explore ethical considerations for data collection
  • Learn a set of practical steps to select appropriate methods for evaluation
  • Practice using a range of methods to describe and measure effectiveness
  • Identify common pitfalls in data analysis
  • Create a skeleton evaluation plan for a real project

Add Engagement Evaluation to your public participation toolbox to create sustainable results.

Engagement Evaluation | 2016 Skills Symposium | #Top

Digital Engagement in P2
Learn how to use information and communications technologies to support your public participation practice!

Join Tim Bonnemann, IAP2 USA board member and founder, president and CEO of Intellitics, Inc. in this lively presentation of how to effectively use technology to drive participatory processes and outcomes.

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Know when and why to use digital tools to widen, deepen or strengthen public participation
  • Identify the points in the design of a public participation process when decisions about the use of digital technologies should be made
  • Use worksheets and other design aids (to be handed out at the workshop or made available online) that inventory the factors to consider in assessing benefits to organizations of use of digital engagement in specific situations, and in choosing, adapting or designing digital tools and processes
  • Identify common pitfalls and challenges and develop mitigation strategies
  • Know where to find high quality information
  • Know how to make the case for digital engagement to peers and superiors

Add Digital Engagement to your public participation toolbox to create sustainable results.

Digital Engagement | 2016 Skills Symposium | #Top

More Tools!
Fill your toolbox with 4 new, innovative and effective community involvement techniques: Conversation Toolkit, Socratic Circle, Ideas Fair and Culturally Sensitive approaches to Community Involvement.

Join Dialogue Partners’ Stephani Roy McCallum, IAP2 Licensed trainer and lead developer of IAP2’s Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course, and Erin Pote, teacher, facilitator, and community builder, in this one-day exploration of new tools you can add to your toolbox.

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Experience a participatory and interactive session that outlines 4 new tools for Community Involvement
  • Test the tools and express concerns, ideas and perspectives in a supported way
  • Identify how and when to use the tools in their processes
    Connect with a tool that will be useful in their work
  • Understand the tools and how they would be useful in different projects and with different stakeholders

Add Conversation Toolkit, Socratic Circle, Ideas Fair and Culturally Sensitive approaches to Community Involvement to your public participation toolbox to create sustainable results.

More Tools! | 2016 Skills Symposium | #Top

Rewind: “Getting Engaged – Staying Engaged” – the IAP2 October Webinar

November 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Should governments and other public institutions make an effort to “stay in touch” with citizens outside of a specific project that requires public engagement? That was the theme of our October Webinar, featuring a project developed by the School of Government (SOG) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. The school has set up CELE – Community Engagement Learning Exchange – a blog, in which people from various sectors write on their views and observations and elicit responses from other “ordinary” members of the public.

The SOG has also been promoting “citizens’ academies” (sometimes called “County University”, “Neighbourhood College” or “City Hall High”) as a way to educate members of the public on the workings of local government.

The initiative is overseen by Drs John Stephens and Rick Morse of the SOG. CELE steers a middle course between the “cheese sandwich” blog – “I had a cheese sandwich for lunch today” – and the extreme-view political blog. The idea, says Stephens, is to draw people into a conversation and exchange views and knowledge.

Not that there isn’t controversy. Stephen Hopkins, a community activist in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and former chair of the local NAACP Housing Committee, says he deliberately sets out to provoke people: “I want to get people’s blood boiling enough to want to comment,” he says.

Along with Hopkins, contributors to the blog include Kevin Smith, a civic employee in Raleigh who conceived the idea and brought it to the SOG in the first place; and Brian Bowman, communications director for the town of Knightdale, NC.

So how are these efforts improving the level and quality of P2? CELE is still in its infancy, and one of the metrics is the number of comments on the blog posts. Morse says there are still not enough of those to declare it a success – or not. He and Stephens acknowledge these things take time, but they are certain they’re on the right track.

The Citizens’ Academies are already showing promise, but also have their limitations. Morse says they’re seeing an increase in the proportion of people getting involved in civic affairs and more likely to take part in public engagement efforts when an actual project comes along that needs to be addressed. (Remember that Citizens’ Academies are not driven by a specific project but by general interest in finding out how government works.) One of the limitations is that the Citizens’ Academies tend to be attended by middle-class retired people who have the leisure to take part. Another is that some of the more marginalized people are not able to participate in CELE: Stephens concedes that this is not the best way to reach them.

Check out the CELE blog, learn more about Citizens’ Academies, and review the October webinar.

July Webinar + IAP2 North America Conference Updates

June 24, 2014 Leave a comment

IAP2 Canada / IAP2 USA July Learning Webinar:

Using Visuals to Engage and Inform Communities

Visuals of complex ideas and information stimulate creative thinking and help people engage more deeply and collaboratively. Join us on Tuesday, July 8 at 2pm Eastern Time, as John Blakinger, co-founder of CivilSay, shares examples of how visuals can help facilitate contentious public meetings and get you thinking about how they can help you tell your story. Click here for more information and to register. (This July webinar will be offered to non-members for $29.00; for IAP2 members, as always, it’s free.) 

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2014 IAP2 North American Conference
Sept. 28-30, 2014 / Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Weeks to go

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UPDATE #1 – week of Monday, June 23, 2014


The IAP2 2014 North American Conference will feature presentations and activities, all designed by P2 professionals to educate, inspire and encourage other P2 practitioners. Each week until the start of the Conference, we’ll send you updates on what you can look forward to.

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SESSION – Tues. 9/30 — “How Kinder Morgan re-wrote the rule book on building trust in pipelines”


Whether it’s coal, oil, gas or even wind power, issues concerning energy production are generating controversy as never before. Lizette Parsons-Bell, Brenda Walton and Ali Hounsell, three communications and consultation leads who worked on Kinder Morgan Canada’s Transmountain Pipeline Expansion Project, will share how they developed a Stakeholder Engagement Program to achieve social acceptance and regulatory approval. You will see how this process fits with the IAP2 Core Values, bringing in sectors traditionally opposed to such projects.

SESSION – Mon. 9/29 — “A reflection on P2 Utopia”

Jan Taylor, until recently Director of Fair Trading and Commissioner for Consumer Affairs in Australia’s Queensland state, takes us on “an 11km journey that engaged 200,000 people for two years,” that shows what an engaged community can accomplish for itself. If you’ve been questioning whether successful engagement and consultation is even possible, given today’s political and economic realities, Jan’s presentation will help you see what can be done. 

For information on all the sessions and their presenters, read the “Conference-at-a-glance” and “Meet the Presenters” on the North American Conference website.

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Technology Fair the toolbox is growing for P2 professionals to reach out to more people and ensure the broadest possible level of public participation. Building on the success of the Technology Fair, which debuted at the 2013 Conference in Salt Lake City, this year’s Conference features more innovations, with providers on-hand to explain how their products can fit into your plans.

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Deadlines are looming remember that you have just over a month now to register for the Conference at the “early-bird” rates. After July 31, the prices go up. (Remember that if you’re a speaker/presenter, a student or a member of IAP2 USA or any other affiliate outside Canada, you need to contact us to get your registration code.)

You can also cash in on the special Conference rate offered by the host hotel,  the Radisson Winnipeg Downtown, but only if you reserve before August 27.

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All work and no play … Quickly, now: what is big, wide and has rouge? Before the smart-aleck answers come in, we’ll tell you: it’s the Canadian Football League. With the bigger playing field, 12-man lineup and no fair catch or touchback, CFL games are slightly different from the NFL, but fast and exciting in their own way. One of our optional extra-curricular activities at the Conference is the game between two storied franchises, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 27 at the new Investors Group Stadium.

                                                    

You can buy your tickets yourself online, or contact Prairies@iap2canada.ca by August 1, and we’ll try to arrange group tickets. (Since you’re dying to know, a “rouge” is a single point given to the kicking team if the ball is kicked through the end zone or the returner doesn’t run it out.)


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Welcome to our sponsors! Some fine sponsors are already jumping on-board, supporting the Conference. A big hat-tip this week to AMEC, Golder Associates, Manitoba Hydro, MMM Group, Suncor, SustaiNet and the City of Winnipeg! If your company is interested in sponsoring us, please contact Anne Harding more information.

Helping hands The Sponsor-a-Citizen Bursary Program is proving very popular, and we’re still looking for donors. Under the program, a citizen who would benefit from coming to the Conference but is financially unable to can receive sponsorship, either for the full Conference (C $850.00) or a single day (C$550.00). Our thanks to two of our one-day sponsors, First Person Strategies and Amelia Shaw Consulting.

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Remember: you can get Conference information any time by visiting the 2014 IAP2 North American Conference website.