PUBLIC PARTICIPATION Untitled Document

Involving the Public: Turning a Liability into an Asset

When working with government projects involving the public, HORIZONS involves the public from the very beginning, along with planners, politicians, and others affecting or affected by the issue. We use methodologies which allow the complexity of voices in the system (often perceived as a liability) to become an asset, adding to the richness of the process and greatly increasing its chance of success. Participants develop "ownership" in the process and become its advocates through crucial stages. Personal relationships are built. Initiative and influence are spread deeply throughout the organization or community. A high level of support for implementation results, and everyone learns the skills of collaboration to attain the desired goal.

Some of the ways whole systems approaches have been applied to public participation:

  • discovering common ground and building a basis for working together in a community where tensions between business interests and environmentalists had long paralyzed the community
  • bringing together disparate interests in a community so that the community could have an impact on burdgeoning development in the region
  • involving the public in developing a general plan
  • planning for housing needs
  • developing and implementing a vision for a "healthy communitiies" program
  • developing a system wide strategic vision and school by school plans to implement it
  • developing a common vision and commitment to a system-wide commitment to overcoming racism and supporting diversity in a school district where racial tensions had erupted into incidents of racism between students
  • planning how, in the face of a move to temporary quarters while earthquake renovation took place, a city government could use the move as an opportunity to improve it ability to serve its constituents
  • building community vision
  • developing a community response to changing demographics
  • involving all of the relevant voices in a community in the development of an environmental impact report

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