Chris Hartye was formally introduced to IAP2 in 2008 shortly after joining the City of Hillsboro and being asked to update the Hillsboro 2020 Vision & Action Plan. Adopted in 2000, the 2020 plan was a 2002 IAP2 Core Values Award winner. The City of Hillsboro has most recently been recognized as the 2016 Organization of the Year Core Values Award winner for North America, due in large part to development of the Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan, which renewed the vision and action plan that guides the city. Hillsboro is a full service city with a population of 99,000.
With a background in strategic planning and stakeholder engagement from a business/economic development perspective, Chris recognized the IAP2 Core Values and Code of Ethics as largely “second nature” in the Pacific Northwest. It seemed a natural extension to conduct the City’s next generation planning efforts using the IAP2 P2 framework.
Chris gets the most satisfaction from hearing about what people are passionate about, “I love to hear firsthand what people care about, especially community members that don’t often voice their opinions, who aren’t always a part of decision-making processes. To directly hear their voice, passion, ideas, and dreams … to me, there’s really no substitute.”
Chris and his team made a point to go where people already are whether it be the farmer’s market, grocery store, or elsewhere. “When we meet people where they’re at, I find that they’re much more forthcoming as opposed to if you host a public forum, for example. People are often more candid, and more passionate, about the things that are important when they’re in their own environment. These are the conversations that carry with me as opposed to anything I’ve seen online or maybe heard at a public forum.”
“Face to face allows for more robust conversation, and the opportunity to discover not only people’s passions, but their talents, resources and the skills they bring to the table. It’s often through P2 that we recruit our volunteers; you wouldn’t know or discover these talents if you weren’t out there doing P2. It helps you discover the human capacity in your city. And then to try to empower that as best you can – find opportunities to involve folks in what they’re good at; what they’re skilled at.”
#1 Challenge – Truly and authentically reach diverse audiences
The biggest barriers to authentic engagement are often language and cultural barriers. “It’s an ongoing, day-to-day thing; a box you never check.”
Hillsboro has communities of “new arrivals”, new residents that often haven’t formed formal organizations, so it’s challenging to reach out to them but the process can be fairly straightforward. From the first awareness a new group is emerging, a few of the first steps are:
- Awareness and identification – Understanding the demographics, the numbers, the geography of where folks are settling; what languages are spoken by the community;
- Finding community leaders – Whether they come through the faith community, are in the nonprofit realm, the business community, or affiliated through the schools;
- Engaging and listening to those leaders – But not by asking them to speak for everybody. “It’s not: we’ve talked with these leaders, so we’re covered; it’s about allowing them to inform you – local government – on the best way to go about engagement.”
“We try to be deliberate with community leaders in clarifying that we’re not here to ask them to be representative or make decisions on behalf of their communities; rather, we’re here to learn how to best engage with the community. And in the end, it’s that “little bit at a time” that moves us forward to creating new futures together by allowing P2 to help grow relationships and capacity.”
Chris has shared his story about the City of Hillsboro’s Community Visioning Process as a Core Values Award winner with IAP2 in the December 2016 webinar, as well as at the 2015 ICMA Annual Conference in Seattle with City Manager Michael Brown, and he looks forward to getting more involved in the IAP2 USA Cascade Chapter. To learn more, visit our 2016 Core Values Awards page.
Last month, the American Planning Association (APA) hosted their 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta, GA. On the final day of the conference, a number of practitioners at the intersection of planning and public participation came together to discuss how the bridging efforts between these two communities could be improved.
Below is a report from Myles Alexander, Project Coordinator for the Center for Engagement and Community Development and Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University, who co-hosted the meetup.
Beginning with an NCDD (National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation) listserv post by Ron Thomas (University of Georgia), Ron, Tim Bonnemann (IAP2 USA) and Myles Alexander (Kansas State University) began talking about how to instill the practice of planning with more meaningful public participation. We organized an informal meeting during the American Planning Association (APA) conference. On Tuesday 29 April eight planners and facilitators bridging APA, IAP2 USA, NCDD and the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM) met over drinks and dinner. After introductions talked about how we can do stronger, more productive public participation.
Our beginning agenda for APA 2015 includes:
- Coordinate a booth featuring public participation software and our organizations.
- Organize regular 75 minute sessions and possible a “Deep Dive” double session that would address a skill. Several topics were mentioned:
- What public participation can be accomplished with online media?
- What public participation must be accomplished face-to-face?
- How do online and face-to-face modes complement each other?
- Engagement infrastructure (both low tech and high tech) and community building
We also talked about some long-term projects.
- Several of us contribute to an APA published monograph on public participation in planning. The monograph series, PAS, has a long history yet public participation has been neglected.
- Advocate for public participation with possibilities that address the fears of elected officials and local government administrators.
- Develop working relationships among our organizations. This summer a new executive director arrives at APA. Meet with Planners Network, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), IAP2, NCDD and IACM leadership probably beginning spring 2015.
There is obviously a lot of opportunity for collaboration across communities and the various neighboring organizations that support them.
For IAP2 USA’s part, Board member Marijoan Bull will serve as coordinator for these efforts. Already, more than 20 people have expressed interest to move the conversation forward. If you’d like to get involved, please contact us.