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Public Participation Techniques

At the heart of the local planning process is public participation — without it, comprehensive plans and implementing regulations will not truly reflect community needs and desires.

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What Does a Discussion Look Like?

What Does a Discussion Look Like? Members Only Content

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.

Communications Word Collage

When Communication Goes One-Way

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.

Don't (just) Ask; Don't (just) Tell

Don’t (just) Ask; Don’t (just) Tell Members Only Content

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.

Do You Give More than Lip Service to Public Participation?

Do You Give More than Lip Service to Public Participation? Members Only Content

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.