September Newsletter: Giving Up the Funk

Dear Valued Reader,

This month’s TPC potpourri is a collection of things that reflect what people have suggested they wanted to hear more about. We’re just people pleasers.

Stay curious,


Hope for America’s Funk

Even if you don’t feel this way yourself, the evidence is pretty clear that we’re generally in a lousy mood in this country. The result is a lack of overall civic trust that shows in the numbers; like only 41 percent of people trusting organized religion – and that’s even before the most recent news about the Catholic church. Only 20 percent of people trust media and only 23 percent trust organized labor. And a short time back, one poll suggested that barely half (52 percent) of us actually have faith in American democracy! Now, you may be wondering about the hope part in the headline, so here it is; millennials are taking over. Read on, and please tell them to hurry.

Thank You, Story Lady!

The above title references a series of old comedy schticks (Google: Story Lady radio) that ran a long time ago consisting of short, wacky and funny radio vignettes for kids that a group of us once resurrected at a college radio station where I worked – think Fractured Fair Tales if you grew up a Rocky & Bullwinkle fan. Our college audience loved them in spite of its age because the humor was goofy, timeless and were just well written, great little stories. In the work that we do with the public, we also need to tell great little (or big) stories. Here’s how.

And once you’ve crafted the beginning, middle and end, and you’re comfortable telling your story, don’t wait, don’t worry too much about how to set it up, don’t introduce yourself first – just tell the story.

What’s Your Point?

Getting to your point right up front in presentations and written material hit a nerve with people after the last issue, so I think it’s worth exploring from another perspective.

Profound Bull$%#&

If you’re still able to watch, listen to, or read about national political news and commentary, you’re being subjected to an ample amount of alternative facts, breathless analysis, and truth that isn’t truth – in other words, welcome to the age of institutionalized, well organized, mainstream BS. Here’s the rub: almost everyone thinks they can spot lies, spin and bull-cookies when they hear it, and therefore they can ignore it or dismiss it. Everyone is just flat wrong.

On the positive side, there actually are ways to identify (and spot the specific characteristics of) people that are generally trustworthy.

Empathy and the Myopia of Big Institutions

Having actively worked for and now consulting for both corporate and public service organizations, I’ve watched how big institutions can soon start to think in an insular way, which tends to be fatal to their mission and success. Once big government agencies start focusing solely on their own culture and mission, they tend to lose the ability to truly understand and relate to the people that they ultimate serve. This piece from the Wharton school explains it nicely.

And while we’re on this subject, when professionals go out of their way to show how confident and professional they are, they often jump the shark into coming off as arrogant. That’s not gonna work when you’re trying to build trust and engage your stakeholders.

Back to the Basics

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the details and nuance of what we do for a living, so once in a while it’s good to take a breath and remind ourselves of the bigger picture of how good, effective meetings need to happen.

Public Participation, Managing Public Opposition and Trust (Re) Building Training

We’ll help you understand what success with the public looks like and how to get there. The Participation Company (TPC) facilitates, consults, coaches and trains civil service, NGO and business people about their community conflicts and building effective public engagement programs. Our job is helping you do yours.

Open upcoming 2018 IAP2 ‘Public Participation Foundations‘ (5-day) classes:

·       Chicago, IL – September 24-28

·       Asheville, NC – October 29-Nov 2

·       Salt Lake City – December 3-7

·       Phoenix, AZ – January 28-Feb 1, 2019

·       Arlington, VA (Washington DC) – March 4-8, 2019

IAP2 ‘Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation’(2-day) classes scheduled before the end of the year:

·       Chicago, IL – October 18-19

·       Denver, CO – November 29-30

IAP2 courses from The Participation Company are eligible for Certification Maintenance (CM) credits through The American Planning Association (APA)’s professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Click here to join us and watch for more IAP2 and other original TPC courses coming up. We mostly work with a variety of public and private sector clients to customize in-house training, coaching and facilitation for their specific challenges. We’re your huckleberries.

You’ll also find more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Doug Sarno, me, and other very stable geniuses at our blog.

The Participation Company LLC is also a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).