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Public Participation in Community Decision-Making –Jim Gruber, Antioch New England Institute –Michele Gagne, UNH Cooperative Extension –Charlie French,

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Presentation on theme: "Public Participation in Community Decision-Making –Jim Gruber, Antioch New England Institute –Michele Gagne, UNH Cooperative Extension –Charlie French,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Participation in Community Decision-Making –Jim Gruber, Antioch New England Institute –Michele Gagne, UNH Cooperative Extension –Charlie French, UNH Cooperative Extension –Dan Reidy, UNH Cooperative Extension CTAP Conference September 29, 2007

2 Why Engage the Public? u To identify and assist in addressing community needs u To educate and empower citizens so they can more fully understand the complexities of issues you must address u To educate decision-makers u To broaden the asset base u To make implementation more likely by building ownership of the citizens on the agreed upon approach u To build accountability and effective feedback

3 Different Approaches of Community Engagement for Different Purposes uIs the purpose… –Community Building? –Public Information? –Deliberation? –Decision Making?

4 Structure the Public Participation Process u Determine the purpose of the Process u Determine the Role of the Public u Identify and Involve Key Stakeholders u Determine how to engage the public u Develop a process u Build Accountability (how will info be used)

5 Public Participation Approaches u Strategic Planning u Community Visioning (Vision to Action) u Interest-Based Problem Solving u Citizen Advisory Committees

6 Strategic Planning Strategic planning enables a group to come to a shared vision of its desired future and to create a detailed, participant-owned plan of action. Advantages u Brings community together around issues u Results-oriented process u Addresses both short and long-term issues u Components of plan adoptable by other plans Challenges u Requires skilled facilitator u Participants may get frustrated with the process u There is not always consensus re objectives and strategies u Results may be long term

7 Vision u Dream of where the community/group wants to be far in the future u Example: –Our town is committed to improving the quality of life for our residents by building a community in which all people have access to economic opportunity, the ability to pursue that opportunity, and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

8 Mission u The what and why u Example: –To build a healthy community through a comprehensive initiative to promote jobs, education, and housing

9 Objectives u The how much of what will be accomplished by when u Example: –Quality Affordable Housing is housing that is free of significant structural defects, meets the basic living needs of residents, and is reasonably safe and secure. To be affordable, the cost to live in quality housing should be within the financial reach of residents (30 percent of income) at various income levels. Quality affordable housing must be profitable for the builder, developer, landlord, etc., or it will not be built and/or maintained.

10 Strategies and Actions u The how and specifics of who will do what and when u Examples: –The City of ---- should enforce existing health and building codes encouraging rental property owners to recognize problems and take action. t Form a committee to determine problem areas in town and report this back to town committees by March 2008 t Selectmen will make a determination after hearing report about expanding code enforcement officer hours to full-time by town meeting 2008

11 Community Visioning…the first step of a vision-to-action process This approach can be used to either map the current condition (called a mind map) or to create a shared, collective vision of the future. Advantages u Builds a broad ownership of where the community wishes to go u Sets broad priorities of the created vision u Inclusive…100s can participate in one hour Challenges u Must have a broad cross-section of the community in the room u Must have a plan to translate the vision into tangible objectives and actions u This is only the 1 st step

12 Step One: The Vision Map u Twenty Years form now….if there is sustained growth…How do you want your community to look, to feel, to have as a home?

13 The Vision Map u Develop a shared vision of where you want to be in 20 years based upon: –the characteristics of your community that you value and wish to sustain –changes you wish to encourage and –changes that you wish to discourage –prioritize key elements of the vision

14 Step Two u Review previous successful (and unsuccessful) approaches, actions, and events that were effective (or not effective) with planning, managing, and directing growth. u Assess resources currently lacking that are needed to plan for growth.

15 Step 3 u Translate the Vision Map into prioritized objectives u Identify existing barriers that are in the way of achieving these objectives (economic, political, social, organizations, knowledge, etc.) u Develop preferred strategies/ approaches that are most likely to address these barriers

16 Step 4 u Identify the specific types of resources/ strategies that are needed to fill the gap between the current resources of local government and what are needed to achieve the shared vision (prioritized objectives) u Revise communitys master plan, capital budget, and other actions needed to proceed towards prioritized objectives

17 Ground Rules u Rules: –All ideas are valid –The person with the idea says where it goes –Give an example to clarify –Everyone has one contribution before a second contribution to the vision –Opposing ideas are OK





22 Interest Based Problem Solving Interest-Based Problem Solving is an issue- resolution process that addresses individual and group differences in a problem-solving environment. Advantages u Focuses on common interests – win-win u Fosters creativity u Solutions weighed with objective criteria u Builds leadership Challenges u Not all issues can be resolved u Process can be frustrating and take a long time u Some parties intentionally work to corrupt process

23 When you hear the word conflict what images come to mind?

24 u Mutual gains solutions u Addresses problems and promotes action u Builds long-term relationships u Stimulates creativity u Strengthens democracy u Leadership emerges Positive aspects of public conflict:

25 u Emotions – how someone feels about an issue u A pre-determined solution Positions Are…

26 Problems with positions: u Predetermined way to resolve problems. u Does not deal with interest of parties in dispute u Limits creative options.

27 u Needs, beliefs, values behind the positions. u Why something is important. Interests are…

28 Why focus on interests? u Gets to heart of issue. u Moves people beyond polarized positions. u Sets stage for mutual understanding. u Leads to group cooperation. u Sets stage for issue re-framing. u Sets stage for generating creative options.

29 Examples of interests & positions: Want school consolidation Positions Oppose school consolidation Interests Cost-efficiency Educational quality Stretch resources Community pride Value historic school Educational quality

30 Citizen Advisory Committee C itizen advisory committees foster positive relations with the community by engaging citizens in the development of policies and programs to ensure that they are enriched by diverse perspectives. Advantages u Diverse representation u Based on local assets u Directly engages citizens in policy-making Challenges u Committees often dont have jurisdictional power u Requires much time/effort u Can suffer low return rates

31 How are they helpful? u Help anticipate public reaction to proposed decisions u Provide communication to constituencies u Organize a forum for building consensus u The advisory committee becomes more educated and their feedback is more informed

32 When are they used? u Master Plans –Representative of various groups in community with a chair to coordinate meetings and report back to town boards –Can work to develop public involvement opportunities for Plan update

33 Even More Approaches to Engage Community Members u Search Conferences u Collaborative Decision Making u Study Circles u Deliberative Dialogue u Public Information Outreach u Citizen Surveys u Youth Involvement Programs u Public Listening u District Council u Community Celebrations u Volunteerism (See handout for a description)

34 Further Resources re Public Participation Tools: Asset Mapping: Concerns Survey: Needs Survey: Focus Groups: Interviews: Public Forums:

35 Break Out Activity

36 Strategies for Enhancing Public Participation u An Example: Involving the public in a community master plan and capital budget planning and implementation process

37 Specific Goals u All approaches should support overall community building and… –Informs the Public (provides public information) –Solicits input from the public (that includes public deliberation processes) –Engages the public in the work (including the decision making process)

38 Three Break-out Groups Group A) Informs the Public (MG facilitates) Group B) Soliciting Input from the Public (JG facilitates) Group C) Engaging the Public In the Work (CF facilitates)

39 Impact vs Feasibility u Each group brainstorms potential, specific approaches of engaging the public including: –both what your can do and how you can do it. –Each approach is written on a sticky note. –Each sticky note is placed on an Impact vs Feasibility Grid (Low, Medium, or High feasibility and Low, Medium, and High Impact

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