Changes to the Municipal Government Act require all Alberta municipalities to have a Public Participation Policy. While a policy is a good start, many municipalities find themselves without the internal expertise or resources to effectively plan and implement the engagement programs required.
The IAP2 Foundations in Effective Public Participation training program can help provide the needed knowledge and skills for strategic engagement. Over the past year, many municipalities have bolstered their internal engagement bench strength by sending staff to the CTC’s IAP2 training sessions – or better still, have had CTC training in-house.
CTC recently ventured to northern Alberta to deliver training to department champions and other staff from the County of Grande Prairie. The training helped them understand how to implement their policy and how engagement could be used more effectively within the County. It was a week full of sharing, learning, practicing - and a lot of laughter. Thank you County of Grande Prairie!
One of the best things about being a trainer for the IAP2 products is the opportunity it gives us to meet so many fabulous people, who like us are passionate about not just engaging the public, but doing it right! In 2018, we shared our stories and many lessons learned with 370 practitioners – literally from coast to coast in Canada. Many – as you would expect – we met for the first time, but we were also able to connect with a few dear friends who took our training back in 2015 when we were last in Halifax for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. It never ceases to amaze us how many great people have gravitated to the field of public engagement because it’s the work they love to do.
Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting someone special named Precious, in our Vancouver class, who was so excited with what she was learning through the training and her fellow participants. Her enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment of each and every day was admirable and a good reminder for all of us to open ourselves every single day to the possibilities that come our way. Can you tell we love training with the Canadian Trainers Collective?
From left to right, CTC participant Precious, CTC trainers Lara Tierney and Gale Simpson
One chilly morning earlier this fall, I found myself at an A&W on the Yellowhead Highway near Niton Junction. It’s not where I would usually go for coffee, but that morning it was the perfect location. It was a place that was nearby and familiar for our stakeholders. This got me thinking about all the different ways we can make it easier for our stakeholders to participate.
Go to them – can we meet somewhere where our stakeholders are going to be? Perhaps plan something at the school for when parents are going to pick up the kids. Or at a familiar coffee shop near where they live. And for bigger meetings, make sure to use a community hall, recreation centre or familiar venue in their neighbourhood.
Take care of the kids – busy parents may need to bring their kids along to engagement events. We need to find ways to keep the kids safe and occupied, so the parents can give their full attention to the engagement event. One client made arrangements for a separate room with child care staff and children’s activities at their recent event. If a separate room isn’t available, try to have a kids activity table (see photo) where kids can play and create. And at the very least, have coloured paper and crayons or washable markers available to hand out to kids who are sitting with their parents.
Feed Them – I cannot stress enough the importance of providing refreshments. While it is an expense, it is small compensation for the time that stakeholders are giving. Depending on the time of day – and location, it can be as simple as a hot beverage and a tasty treat (Tim Bits, anyone?). For dinner time meetings, it should be more substantial – perhaps a little protein or some fruit and veggies. In the rural communities, also consider who should provide the food. Is there a local caterer, service club or restaurant that could benefit from the business? And don’t forget to have some kid-friendly food, as well.
We ask a lot of our stakeholders – finding time in their busy schedules, discussing tough topics and giving us their wisdom. The more we do to make it easy for them to participate – the better.
CTC trainer Gay Robinson was recently interviewed in regards to how empathy plays a large role in stakeholder engagement. Read the article on Communica's blog.
CTC trainer Gay Robinson was profiled in a recent issue of IAP2 Canada’s newsletter. Gay talks about engaging stakeholders in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, Synergy groups and P2 in Alberta’s current economy. Read the article.
We are finding that more and more of our projects need to include on-line engagement. There are so many tools available that it is sometimes difficult to figure out which one is best for a specific project. The IAP2 Foundations manuals outline what to consider when selecting techniques – and provide a helpful worksheet. But the manuals don’t address the specific factors to consider when picking an online tool – things such as:
To help with selecting an appropriate on-line tool, the CTC has developed an On-line Engagement Tool Assessment Worksheet. Check it out here (link to worksheet). If you have ideas for other things to consider when selecting on-line tools, let us know. And if you want some ideas on what’s available for on-line engagement, Community Matters has put together a list of “50 Tools for Online Public Engagement”
The IAP2 North American Conference in Montreal in September provided lots of opportunities for learning and networking. The CTC trainers were all in attendance. In addition to attending some fantastic sessions, we got to catch up with some very dear friends! Can’t wait for the next conference in Denver from September 6 – 8, 2017.
From left to right, CTC trainers Jan Bloomfield and Gale Simpson, IAP2 Canada Executive Manager and fellow trainer, Amelia Shaw, Former IAP2 International Board member Joana Janiw from Paris France, and CTC trainer Gay Robinson
We love to hear from our past training participants – especially when they have tried a new technique. Mark Busse (HCMA Architecture + Design, Vancouver) recently used a Socratic Circle to gather input on a land use planning project. Here is what Mark had to say about the technique:
“There were 30 people representing various stakeholder groups, most of whom didn’t know each other and some in the room had some strong opinions resulting in some anxiety. The format helped minimize conversation domination and made space for typically soft-spoken people, who loathe public speaking, to participate.”
Mark went on to say that after the two rounds of the Socratic Circle, they ended with a productive dialogue with the entire group. While not part of the IAP2 Techniques manual, Socratic Circles are one of the many additional techniques we often talk about in the Techniques for Effective Public Participation module. Originally used as a teaching method, this variation on the revolving conversation uses dialogue to tackle complex, polarized and sometimes emotional subjects. A web search will provide some interesting articles on this technique.
Did you know that completion of the IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation training program is your first step in becoming a Certified Public Participation Professional?
IAP2 Canada has just launched the pilot of its Canadian Professional Certification program. This is your opportunity to take your IAP2 training and years of experience to a new level by affirming your skills and knowledge within the certification program. The entire multi-step assessment process will take several months and culminates with a face-to-face Assessment Centre in November. And the first step is to complete the 5-day IAP2 training program!
The application and assessment process is based on five core competencies that were identified through the membership consultation process:
A full list of the Canadian core competencies, along with more information on the application process are on the IAP2 website.
CTC partners, Jan Bloomfield and Gay Robinson are on the Canadian Certification Task Force and we welcome this new level of accreditation for our field of practice.
As a value-added service, each of our training participants qualify for post-training coaching from any one of the CTC trainers. We believe that coaching supports application of the course material and on-going learning.
We received confirmation of this recently in an email from training participant Kathryn Pollack, “I wanted to thank you for your time with me back in 2014 when you helped me to get things lined up in my head about the advisory group composition (which was key to the success of this experience) and how the group could bring value to the project. Your advice (and of course the IAP2 training) really helped to shape this experience and for that I am very grateful.
Thanks Kathryn! We love to hear from our participants – especially when the training and coaching have helped a project.
CTC and the IAP2 Wild Rose Chapter joined forces last year to sponsor a student’s participation in the IAP2 Planning for Effective Public Participation course. Our student participant was Megan Mucignat who is in the Master of Planning program at the University of Calgary’s faculty of Environmental Design. Megan has recently returned from a semester in Melbourne, Australia, so we checked in with her to see how she has used her IAP2 training.
“My interest in public engagement was inspired by my love of simply connecting with people and has been a major focus of my master studies. Being sponsored to take the IAP2 foundation course has increased my ability to build consensus and confidently approach community engagement with a set of successful tools. The IAP2 Foundations course is a pillar in what I hope to be a long career committed to effective public engagement. I was humbled and inspired by the work of the Canadian Trainers Collective and by the sense of mentorship that is fostered in IAP2 for young professionals.”
CTC is pleased to be able to support new practitioners and will be sponsoring a student again in the future.
CTC partners – Jan, Gay and Gale – were literally gobsmacked! (def. completely dumbfounded, shocked. From the Irish word "gob" meaning "mouth") during the recent IAP2 Wild Rose Signature Event, when they were presented with the Terry Koch Award. What a huge surprise and genuine honour it is for the partners to be acknowledged in this way by the IAP2 Chapter they have called home for so many years now.
The Terry Koch Award is given to a board member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in advancing IAP2 Core Values, both on the Board and in their own practice, who has acted in the service of the membership, has been an advocate for the practice to the membership, and has contributed noteworthy actions that have enhanced the provincial, national and international profile of the Wild Rose Chapter.
Gay Robinson is serving as Treasurer on the 2013-14 Board, Jan Bloomfield is a Past President and Gale Simpson served for many years as Communications Director. Together, as partners in the Canadian Trainers Collective and individually, they promote Wild Rose and IAP2 to most everyone they meet. Gay, Gale and Jan feel very fortunate to have received this very special award and recognition for their dedication.