October Newsletter: The Pumpkin Spice Issue

Dear Valued Reader,

Either Eleanor Roosevelt or Socrates is credited with saying, roughly, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” We, and most news media, are now kept continually distracted and talking about what people are saying rather than the current events and public policy, rules and law changes (or not) that have such profound consequences.
Your assignment this month is to convince at least one eligible but traditional non-voter to pay attention and vote in November. Carry on.
Every day’s a school day; stay curious,
P.S. Boo!

Public Participation Primer

Public involvement is a practice that’s pretty simple in concept and complex in successful execution – after all, we’re dealing with people. So, when I ran across the following that does a nice job of explaining it, I had to pass it on to you.

Who Goes to Public Hearings!?

The two biggest public challenges that clients and students tell us they face is that (1) they don’t know how to get people involved, except for (2) the ones that do, come to meetings and hearings mad. They’re right, and here’s the empirical evidence.

Heart First, Head Second

It’s been mentioned before but it bears repeating: most of the best information that we have about motivating human behavior comes from business – not government. After all, it’s been projected that $558 billion will be spent on advertising in 2018 to convince you to make your teeth whiter, buy a MyPillow® or vote for this candidate cause the other guy’s evil. (To save time, I’m voting for the MyPillow® guy.) I’m guessing that the advertising and communication budget for your new general plan update was a little light, and your department of public works probably doesn’t have a sophisticated marketing machine to help people understand why your town needs a new, less smelly wastewater treatment plant. But the following explains the importance of why advertisers connect to your limbic system.
And on that subject of emotion, know that individual words can have a big, huge, or gargantuan impact on people’s perception. Choose them carefully.

Change for Engineers

This isn’t about changing engineers (that’s just creepy), it’s about helping technically oriented people understand how and why people resist change. Most of the work that you do ultimately leads to some kind of change that people are required to accept in their lives, and believe it or not, there’s a mathematical formula for that. You may thank me later.

You Work For An Institution That People Don’t Trust

There’s no way around it, people don’t trust most authorities or organizations with power over their lives. Public trust in institutions has been consistently deteriorating for decades but seemed to fall over the cliff after the more recent U.S. economic crash. Here’s the cold truth.

Tell Me A Story

We got some nice feedback on the ‘story’ stories in the last newsletter, so I thought I’d give you one more that boils down storytelling to six points.
And one last point about presentations and storytelling: remember that PowerPoint is a visual aid. Period.

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

We’ll help you succeed with the public. 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. We’ll help you make the disgruntled, gruntled. Our job is helping you do yours.
Upcoming IAP2 ‘Public Participation Foundations’ (5-day) classes:
  • 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 Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation’ (2-day) classes scheduled before the end of the year:
  • 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 look 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.


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