public participation

Town Hall Meetings Fail

Town Hall Meeting

In my professional opinion, a town hall meeting where people determine long term infrastructure decisions by popular vote, is not a recommend public engagement process, because:

First Global Democratic Deliberation in History

Earth from spaceOn September 26, 2009 approximately 4,000 citizens in 38 countries discussed and recognized their collective opinions on the issue of climate change.  The format was an incredible example of best practices in public participation, that included:

Citizens' Assemblies: Wise Democracy from the Minipublic

(Originally published on WorldChanging.com September 6th 2008)

Politicians should take note; there is a new answer to some of the toughest questions of our times. When presented with an issue with no obvious popular and sensible solution, or a situation where a legislature is unable to make progress on an important topic, 100 random citizens can be called on to solve the political puzzle, as they did in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario (my home province).

A great guide to public consultation

I recently found this manual...

PUBLIC CONSULTATION GUIDE:
CHANGING THE REIATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND CANADIANS

By Peter Sterne with Sandra Zagon
http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/SC94-62-19-1997E.pdf

I am finding it very useful for planning public consultations required for environmental assements. The detailed Roadmap Model gives 51 key steps one should carry out to conduct a successful public participation process. Written in 1997 it's a bit out of date in terms of more conteporary approaches, such as the use of online tools, but it is still very worth while and insightful for consultants and government folks in Canada and beyond. Pass it on!

More Criteria for Evaluating Participatory Processes

I found this “Practical Guide for Evaluating Participatory Processes” (PDF) by the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy (OIDP is the Spanish acronym). I'm not that impressed in the ambiguity of the criteria, the redundancy between criteria and the lack of reference to foundational research. Instead I would highly recommend “Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation” by Gene Rowe and Lynn J. Frewer, whose criteria I summarized in a previous blog post.

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