As your commission, your department, or your local government start using social media tools more and more, it’s essential to look at these with a clear, un-awed eye … and realize that the tools we need to do our work well require much more than just a Facebook page.
Public Participation Techniques
We’ve published many articles on citizen participation methods, from phone trees to opinion surveys. PlannersWeb columnist Della Rucker is also focusing on public participation in her current series.
PlannersWeb columnist Della Rucker’s first video cast is a conversation with Chris Haller of Urban Interactive Studio about the new world of planning project web site development — and a look at his firm’s “Engaging Plans” web site tool.
Our national public discourse hasn’t been very good at real discussion lately. Even on TV news shows that claim to be “discussing” issues, what you too often hear is people talking over and shouting past each other. But planning commissions can set a positive example in public hearings and meetings.
We claim in local government to want to have the community involved — we call it “public engagement” or “public feedback” or “stakeholder involvement” — but the fact is, most of the time we’re paying lip service to the idea, at best if we want to find solutions to the complex, tangled issues we face — we need dialogue, we need collaborators.
Collaboration should be the ultimate goal of our planning efforts. If we design our public engagement strategies to build Collaboration, we can do more than what our planning commissions can do alone. We can strengthen the full set of muscles we need to make the entire community better.
When we give a presentation, post documents to a web page, or announce the preferred plan, we are Telling. It’s one-way communication from us to the public. When we ask members of the public questions, and then simply write down their answers, we are Asking. It’s one-way as well, but from them to us. Here’s the problem: while both Telling and Asking are needed, they are nowhere near enough.
Take a look at the latest addition to the PlannersWeb. Our 12-part Resource Guide will provide you tips and ideas on how to better manage public hearings. The Resource Guide also points you to other relevant online information and documents.
Brunswick, Maine has a wonderful downtown. The sidewalks are perfect for strolling and window shopping. Downtown is just about ideal. Except for one thing: those human squirrels you see scurrying across Maine Street.
As someone who lives in a university town, I can tell you it’s not every day that the university’s and town’s perspectives on a key issue are closely aligned. But that’s the case in Storrs, Connecticut, where the University of Connecticut (UConn) and the Town of Mansfield both agree that what they really want an need is a new downtown center. A look at the development of Storrs Center.
Does your planning commission take a “walkabout approach” to public meetings. PlannersWeb contributing writers Jim Segedy & Lisa Hollingsworth-Segedy explain why it can be very helpful to put on your walking shoes and go out for a group walk.