In planning and implementing public engagement activities, local officials often contract with external consultants for services. These may be consultants who design and lead activities devoted solely to public engagement, such as a series of community conversations contributing to the development of a local agency budget. Or they may be consultants who carry out tasks well beyond public engagement alone, such as assisting in the overall development of a general plan update. This tip sheet from the Institute For Local Government offers several recommendations to help guide local officials in the best use of public engagement consultants.
Testing the Waters: California’s Local Officials Experiment with New Ways to Engage the Public (ILG Report)
This report—the first of two—presents the perspective of California’s public officials. It concludes with practical recommendations emerging from this study and its companion study on civic leaders’ perspectives for how to encourage productive relationships between local officials and the public and expand opportunities for broad sections of the public to meaningfully participate in local decision making. (more…)
What legal issues do public agencies face relating to their use of social media? This paper chronicles a number of them. It also offers “dos and don’ts” advice for reaping the benefits of social media while minimizing the pitfalls. A version of this paper was delivered to the May 2010 City Attorneys Spring Conference. (more…)
The Happiness Alliance, home of The Happiness Initiative and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index, is a deeply grassroots organization. Their mission is to improve the well-being of society by reducing emphasis on economic growth and focusing on the domains that lead to life satisfaction, resilience and sustainability. Their purpose is to provide tools resources and knowledge to foster grassroots activism for a new economic paradigm. The Happiness Alliance is a volunteer driven organization. (more…)
This report describes the findings of the May 22, 2014 workshop “Bringing Citizen Voices to the Table: Infrastructure Needs in a Democracy,” hosted by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue in partnership with SFU Public Square. The featured speaker was Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, founder of AmericaSpeaks, and one of the foremost citizen engagement practitioners in North America. The report summarizes participant evaluations of the citizen engagement infrastructure in British Columbia, Canada, as well as participants’ ideas to strengthen the influence of citizen voices on policy decisions. (more…)
This 4-page publication (2004) describes the “Deliberative Mapping” approach and how it could be used to foster more productive discussions between specialists and members of the public about complex policy issues where there is no obvious way forward.
Though it only appears to have been tried once, Deliberative Mapping was a methodology that could be applied to a problem to judge how well different courses of action perform according to a set of economic, social, ethical and scientific criteria. The aim was to use the approach as the basis for more robust, democratic and accountable decision making which better reflects public values. (more…)
This Manual from the Policy Consensus Institute contains the essential information for training leaders from agencies and organizations interested in learning more about how to use collaborative processes to address public issues. These materials are practical and problem-centered, designed to capitalize on people’s experience and to help them integrate new ideas with their existing knowledge.
They are presented in eight modules, each module covering an aspect of the “best practices” for sponsoring, organizing, and conducting a collaborative governance process. Each module includes descriptions of key points to cover and activities to address the key points.
The Manual also provides audio visual materials in the form of a CD with PDF handouts and slides and a video DVD of various leaders describing their roles in collaborative processes. These materials are designed to be used in conjunction with the PCI Practical Guide to Collaborative Governance. The first step for workshop sponsors and trainers is to decide on your objectives, target audience, and the format and length of the workshop. Then you will be able to decide which modules will best serve your objectives. (more…)
This 62-page step-by-step handbook from the Policy Consensus Institute walks readers through the stages of sponsoring,convening, organizing, and participating in a public policy collaborative process. Designed primarily for elected and appointed government officials and civic leaders, the guide also is useful for those who provide leaders with the staff assistance, facilitation services, and support they need to employ these approaches effectively.
The Practical Guide was developed and written by Chris Carlson, founding director of PCI and a leading authority on consensus building in the public sector.
The Practical Guide to Collaborative Governance will help equip more leaders – present and future, in the public, private, and civic sectors – with the information and tools they need to bring about better governance through the use of collaborative practices, with instructions on how to: (more…)
Non-partisan, interdisciplinary, and written for the educated lay reader, “The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life,” was released by Paradigm Publishers in 2014. Written by scholars Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Elizabeth A. Bennett, Alissa Cordner, Peter Taylor Klein, and Stephanie Savell, this book is an excellent way to further a conversation about what it means to be a U.S. citizen, a skeptic, an activist, and a dreamer of a better tomorrow.
The Civic Imagination is an ethnographic study of seven civic organizations in Providence, Rhode Island. For one year, the five researchers participated in each groups’ meetings and events, volunteering alongside activists, and interviewing leaders about their lives and work. All these people wanted to make Providence a better place to live, but their ideas about how political change is made, and the actions they took, were radically different. This book introduces the concept of a “civic imagination”– a cognitive roadmap that guides civic engagement, helps to diagnose social problems, and directs actions that affect political change.
In a time of unprecedented skepticism of governments, disdain for politics, and distrust of politicians, The Civic Imagination offers two key insights. First, cynicism and apathy do not go hand in hand! People who “are not political” actively create ways to make change. Second, how we think about politics shapes how we do politics. By sharing colorful stories and surprising accounts of how Providence activists go about making change, the book provides examples of possible forms of engagement and critical commentary about these approaches, paying particular attention to how engagement strategies can often be blind to or inadvertently deepen social inequalities.
This resource was submitted by co-author Stephanie Savell of Brown University via the Add-a-Resource form.
In this paper, Dr. Rick Lent of Brownfield & Lent provides directions for six tools that he finds particularly useful in improving the effectiveness of board meetings in nonprofit organizations.
All meetings have structures that influence which participants speak, how they sit, how time is managed, how thoughts are shared, and how decisions are made. People act as they do in a given structure because that’s what makes sense to them to do—without even thinking about it. Most structures go unnoticed even as they influence the way the meeting works. Nonprofit board meetings are no exception and may face additional challenges due to their large size (more than 10), mission focus, role of volunteers and so on. Fortunately, you can easily implement more effective structures—a more effective structure naturally builds productive discussions and helps the board stay on track and on time.