Support from community stakeholders is essential to motivate elected officials, allocate resources needed, and achieve long-term goals and objectives.  This support comes from effective community involvement that builds planning project ownership. This ownership creates the political support needed to secure ongoing funding in ever-changing economic and political landscapes. A large part of our success has been due to our understanding of the best ways structure and facilitate community engagement programs that:

Include Stakeholders

Despite, and sometimes because of our many tools for communication, reaching stakeholders early in a process is always challenging. Focusing only on social media and web-based communications can skew the audience you reach and the resulting participation. Our citizen participation programs begin with identifying the target audiences and selecting the most effective tools to reach each stakeholder group with a message that will motivate participation.

Provide Diverse Opportunities

People process information in many ways and their communication skills are equally varied.  Furthermore, most citizens have pressing matters in their lives that may limit their ability to participate in meetings and workshops. To better engage the public, we make it easier and more fun to be a meaningful part of the process by providing a variety of formats and forums to learn and participate in the planning process.

Inform, Educate, & Inspire

After reaching stakeholders, we immediately begin the process to create a more informed citizenry. Effective communication educates citizens about their choices and the implications of those choices. Through better understanding of the issues and their impact on stakeholders’ lives, we inspire active participation and constructive contributions to the decision-making process.

Build Credibility & Respect

By respecting citizens and their ability to wrestle with the difficult issues facing their communities, our processes build credibility with citizens, many of whom enter the process as skeptics. Building credibility for projects through the planning process gives citizens the confidence that they can make meaningful contributions to the quality of life in their neighborhood, community and region. This credibility typically translates to greater credibility for the decision-makers who support the process.

Define Clear Roles

Empowered citizens can be great assets or constant irritants to local decision-makers. The key to keeping constructive relationships is to ensure that stakeholders understand the planning process, the ways that they can shape the planning process and how their input will be used during and after the process. By better understanding opportunities and constraints in local decision-making processes, citizens will better understand the times and places where there input will be most effective.

Create Champions

In today’s polarized political climate, most communities are one election or one budget cycle away from a change in priorities. Our processes create the champions and long-term support needed to implement plans and ordinances that can only achieve their goal through consistent action over the course of many years or decades.

Facilitate Future Initiatives

We view each project as one of many steps needed to continually improve the quality of life in our clients’ communities. Success in one project can be springboard to move forward to address the next challenge. Building trust through successful action on one project will make the next project easier to accomplish.