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Public Engagement Signposts – May 2014


This regular feature of ILG’s Public Engagement E-News offers useful information and resources about public engagement practices, innovations and ideas from sources in California and elsewhere.

What if Government Doesn’t Trust Citizens? 

Bill Barnes has written a thoughtful article, entitled “What If Government Doesn’t Trust Citizens” in a recent issue of the PA Times, published by the American Society for Public Administration. Read it here. This is a relevant piece for those local officials and others applying public engagement strategies and processes to address community and government issues. Bill is a NAPA Fellow who recently retired from the National League of Cities.

Documentation of Kern County Public Engagement

Often, successful public engagement efforts are not well documented and the efforts and strategies used – and the results achieved – may not be readily available to the general public. Kern County’s Planning and Community Development Department has a done a nice job of providing online reports that not only provide the goals and priorities established but tell the story of the public engagement strategies, often including specific agendas and process steps in very helpful detail. As one example, find the Indian Wells Valley Visioning Report here. There is also a well-done visual that documents and illustrates outcomes of the East Bakersfield Community Vision Plan. An inviting poster that announces an upcoming Boron Community Visioning Workshop, noting that children and youth are welcome and “refreshments available” is also online here.

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America

This new book, by Peter Levine (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) is food for thought for those who, like Levine, believe that deliberation is most valuable when connected to work – the work of active and engaged citizens (p.3). A review by Timothy Shaffer in the latest Journal of Public Deliberation (Vol. 9; Issue 2, Article 18) provides a helpful overview this new book and insights into its importance. Find this review online. One might say that this book helps connect some of the dots between public deliberation and engagement and broader concepts of civic renewal.

From ILG: Communications Resources for Effective Public Engagement Outcomes

The Institute for Local Government’s Public Engagement Program has developed several publications that provide guidance in the communications area. “Effective Engagement through Strategic Communication” offers advice on communication strategies before, during and after a local agency’s public engagement effort. Download here.  Download a second publication, “Broadening Public Participation Using Online Engagement Tools” here. On another communications-related issue, see “Language Access Laws and Legal Issues: A Local Official’s Guide” available here.

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