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Dealing with Deeply Held Concerns and Other Challenges to Public Engagement Processes

The Institute for Local Government’s Public Engagement Program offers a draft (as of Jan 2013) 7-page document to help local officials design and prepare for public engagement processes that are effective, responsive and civil – even when participants hold very strong views. It begins…

Public engagement processes are often forums for a broad spectrum of input. In some cases, public engagement participants will have very strongly held views about:

  • The topics to be discussed;
  • The local (or regional) agency and officials involved; and/or
  • The public engagement process itself.

Such deeply held concerns can present challenges to a local agency sponsoring or organizing a public engagement process. Addressing these concerns effectively is important as a fundamental goal of most participation efforts is to offer the opportunity for all perspectives to be heard.

Designing and facilitating a discussion among people who have significantly different perspectives and deep feelings about an issue is both a skill and an art.

The following ideas can help in designing and preparing for public engagement processes that are effective, responsive and civil – even when participants hold very strong views. Of course, local and regional agency public engagement plans and responses will be contingent on the time, staff and financial resources available.

Note:  as of January 10, 2012, this document is in draft form

Resource Link: www.ca-ilg.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/dealing_with_deeply_held_concerns_draft_10-19-12.pdf

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