Attorney Alan C. Weinstein provides an overview of how to avoid violating Open Meetings laws — including situations that are particularly troublesome: meetings in executive session, site-visits, “informal” meetings with staff, and electronic communications.
An introduction to the goals and structure of open meeting laws — including a look at the key question: what constitutes a “meeting”?
In Portland, food carts have really sizzled. Head downtown and you’ll find an entire city block (home to a parking lot) completely lined by food carts. A look at “food cartology.” Also: the importance of public engagement in planning.
What do street intersections have to do with strong neighborhoods and empowered citizens? Aren’t intersections just for dividing up blocks, and getting traffic through? Take a look at a program that’s turned intersections on their head.
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.
To help you avoid the holes in the rocky road of being a planning commissioner, we present the Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid When Holding Public Hearings or Meetings.
Planners are increasingly relying on the web and online tools to gather public input. But there are concerns about the “digital divide” and whether all segments of the community can participate. A look at how public libraries are helping reduce the digital divide.
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.
We all know that the bottom line in what really counts in building strong communities is … the people. Committed citizens can pull together and make just about any place better. That’s just what I saw on a windy Saturday in the small city of Bath, Maine.
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.
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?
Storytelling is the universal human language. We think in story. We form our attitudes about the world around us in story. A primer on how story can be used in community planning.