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IAP2 Seeks Input for National Dialogue Effort on P2

The International Association for Public Participation launched their 2018 IAP2 USA National Dialogue at the Skills Symposium in Austin, Texas, earlier this year on engaging the public in highly technical and complex projects. They are seeking input on how public participation (P2) is currently being used on these complex engagement efforts and what are some techniques for better engaging the public in the future. Learn more about what they have found so far and check out the toolkit IAP2 created for organizing an event in your community. They are looking to compile the responses for this and share it at the upcoming 2019 Skills Symposium next year. You can read some of the highlights below and find even more information on the IAP2 site here.


2018 IAP2 USA National Dialogue

How and Why the Public Should be Engaged in Highly Technical and Complex Projects

At a time when highly technical and complex projects such as natural gas pipelines, electricity transmission projects and multimodal transportation developments are on the rise, more stakeholder groups are clamoring for a greater role in planning, problem-solving and decision-making. In the 2018 IAP2 USA National Dialogue, we hope to learn what P2 practitioners and other community engagement professionals say about the P2 practices currently being used in these projects and how the public can be engaged more successfully in the future.

IAP2 USA kicked off its 2018 National Dialogue in Austin, Texas, this past February. Over the coming year, we want to learn how the revived spirit of “localism” in large and small communities across the country is impacting decision-making where we live and work. What ideas and suggestions can P2 practitioners and others make to better understand and respond to the growing tension among individual stakeholders, advocacy groups and project managers?

Get the conversation started in your area!

To help IAP2 USA chapters, member organizations and others hold national dialogue discussion in your community, IAP2 USA has created a toolkit to make it easy. Everything you need to plan and organize an event is right here at your disposal, including thought-provoking conversation starters such as a YouTube video documenting a real-life project and an online survey about how project managers engage the public. The ideas generated during these discussions will be collected and shared across IAP2 USA’s network of over 2,000 members and friends, as well as wrap-up discussion at the 2019 Skills Symposium in Austin, Texas. We also plan to share the practitioner knowledge and expertise with our government regulators and IAP2 affiliates around the globe.

At-a-glance: 2018 National Dialogue Kick-off Summary
The 2018 National Dialogue began at the Skills Symposium in Austin, Texas, with an introduction by IAP2 USA President Leah Jaramillo and emerging Lone Star Chapter representative Tina Geiselbrecht. Event sponsor and Outreach Experts CEO Jay Vincent then opened the discussion on the role of the public in highly technical, complex projects. Sharing his experience in the energy industry, Vincent highlighted the growing tension between the regulatory agencies responsible for approving energy development projects and the public.

Using card storming and focused conversations, participants were led through a series of tabletop exercises on the following questions:

  • What are the barriers to engaging the public in highly technical and/or complex projects?
  • Why are regulators/project sponsors/clients/internal staff afraid (fear) of engaging the public in highly technical and/or complex projects?

Table reps posted each group’s tops ideas to a sticky wall and grouped the responses into subthemes. After reviewing the subthemes group members returned to their tables for a focused conversation on two follow up discussion questions.

  • DQ1: Discussion How might we overcome these challenges?
  • DQ2: What might IAP2 USA do to help? (have a volunteer take notes on the flip chart

Major Themes

  • Diversity of agency processes
  • Inability to understand community interests
  • Lack of understanding
  • Diversity of stakeholders
  • Lack of clarity around expectations
  • Time (whose frame of reference is relevant to setting time boundaries)
  • Preparing technical challenges
  • Managing technical information
  • Managing resources

Before closing, some participants completed a short survey on the role of state and federal regulatory agencies in project permitting processes. The results begin to help us understand what experts think of the overall effectiveness of the three levels of government in relation to IAP2 Core Values and how these entities interact with the public in relation to the P2 spectrum. A civic engagement and demographic battery provided insight on the civic and community engagement practices of participating P2 professionals.

Now it’s your turn to host a National Dialogue discussion in your community. The carefully planned toolkit will make event planning quick and easy.

You can find the original version on this announcement on the International Association for Public Participation at www.iap2usa.org/2018nationaldialogue.

Keiva Hummel
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies.

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