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.
Public Participation Techniques
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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.
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.
If we want to find solutions to the complex, tangled issues we face — whether it’s the impact of a new development or revisions to a sign code — we need dialogue. We need collaborators. And that means engaging in dialogue, instead of lecturing.
Instead of doing “public participation” that actually makes our plans and projects better, we have an unfortunate history of relegating people to a couple of predetermined alternatives. A look at better ways of public engagement.
When a concept like the “wisdom of the crowd” suggests that we need to rely even more on public input to develop
a master plan or a new zoning ordinance, the initial reaction may well be deep skepticism. Yet, is it possible to tap into the knowledge of a large and diverse group of people?
Lisa Hollingworth-Segedy supplements her article, “Inviting Them In: Using Story as a Planning Tool,” by describing in a short audio clip, three important lessons she’s learned about the use of storytelling.
You’re at the final hearing on a comp plan amendment your commission has been working on for over a year. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, opposition erupts as rumors spread about what they are about to do to us. How you can minimize the chances of this happening.
You’ve worked hard to organize a community visioning initiative. There’s just one problem: how do you get citizens to participate? How do you persuade a cross-section of your community to attend vision meetings and share their ideas about the future? Pick up the phone, recommends civic consultant Otis White.
How can you ensure that your comprehensive plan makes sense, and guides decision-making to choices that create a healthy, balanced community? One way is by doing a community self-assessment, a process that helps identify issues and build consensus.
By engaging in a true dialogue with the public, you may learn some useful information and actually enjoy the give-and-take.
The goal of a charrette is to bring decision makers and community members together in one place to create a plan that represents a detailed, feasible agreement — a consensus which can otherwise take months to achieve.