Community Engagement:

Public and community engagement, involvement and participation is what we are doing as consultants. It is also what we help others do most effectively. We work with teams, companies and agencies on reaching consensus through public participation and collaboration. We usually find ourselves bridging divides by creating spaces where people are willing to participate to build solutions. Community engagement builds consensus. And below you have some of the best of the news and tips that we have found about how to engage communities. Or what happens when you do not. The latest news handpicked by our public sector consultants, all wrapped up with a sometimes snarky – yet always informed – perspective. Enjoy!

Community Engagement

Decision Fatigue

You’re tired… we’re all tired. The silent majority has become the exhausted majority and the research and evidence shows that...
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Community Engagement

Interruptions

By the time you’re reading this, you may have seen two Presidential and one Vice-Presidential debates and you’ve gotten a...
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Community Engagement

Participation in the Time of COVID

The public involvement meeting world has changed. The days of packing school cafeterias with people stuffed together into folding chairs...
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Community Engagement

The Redheaded Stepchild of Engagement

At the risk of offending redheads (please send your comments and death threats to Doug at Sarno@TheParticipationCompany.com), I must point...
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Community Engagement

Engaging Our Way Out of the BLM Impasse

The death of George Floyd launched a rocket under the seven-year-old Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and nothing suggests it...
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Community Engagement

To Survive, Democracy Can’t be a Spectator Sport.

Our managing pardner Debra Duerr has some personal thoughts on the role of a citizen. Those of us in the...
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Community Engagement

Starting a Virtually Useful Checklist

Given the still rising number of new COVID-19 cases in most of the U.S., it’s pretty obvious that we’re going...
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Community Engagement

Community Engagement Around COVID-19

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington says wearing face masks reduces transmission of...
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Community Engagement

Power vs. Influence

Lord Acton is known to have said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” David Brin later said,...
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Community Engagement

Staying Connected, Six Feet Apart

As the following story says, just when we most need to connect to people on an interpersonal basis, that’s the...
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Community Engagement Trust

Staying Sane & Relevant – Home Alone Issue

I struggled with how to start this newsletter but I’ve been thinking about Allen Saunders’ quote (often attributed to John...
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Community Engagement

Sanctimonious Gasbags

I’m sure that my first grade teacher, Sister Mary Mercy, wouldn’t happy if she caught me saying this but let’s face it, some people are just jerks. Look, I’m a committed believer and...
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Community Engagement

Great Questions Engage People

Public participation, when done effectively and authentically, actively engages people in the conversation or issue that you’re trying to resolve....
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Community Engagement

Conversing Requires Three (3) Key Things

Most conversations about controversial issues are waged as if whoever gets the most words in is declared the winner. And,...
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Community Engagement

Jack-of-All Facilitators

Over the years, I’ve responded to lots of requests for a facilitator with very specific expertise in some kind of...
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Community Engagement

Open Government

To many people, government is this big, scary, secret and intimidating institution run by a bunch of robotic bureaucrats. There...
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Community Engagement

Proving Your Public Participation Chops

If you’ve worked in public engagement for a while, you should seriously consider the process of becoming an International Association...
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Community Engagement

A Great Public Engagement Story

With all due respect to my civil engineering pals, I’m not sure that I could have thought of a subject...
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Community Engagement

Rewiring Democracy

If you’ve not yet read this, I’d encourage you to do so. Matt Leighninger and Quixada Moore-Vissing summed up the...
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Community Engagement

The Secret Skill to Develop

One of the best and most useful skills to develop in public engagement, facilitation, and conflict management is the ability...
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Community Engagement

Fearless Facilitation is a Fallacy

In the work that we do and in the classes that we teach, we increasingly run across people just starting...
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Community Engagement

Scientists and Other Experts are Lousy Communicators

A recent Pew research study finds that Americans tend to have a positive image of the work of research scientists...
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Community Engagement

And On the Bright Side

People who deal with tough public policy, stakeholder conflicts and upset people much of the time can become jaded, skeptical...
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Community Engagement

School Dazed

I just spent several days professing with the next generation of public servants at a major university recently and a...
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Community Engagement

The Case for an Engaged Public

Just so happens that I’m writing this from Chicago (Second City, that Toddlin’ Town, the City of Broad Shoulders, Hog...
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Community Engagement

Empathy Isn’t The Magic Fix We Think It Is

Empathy is on the decline. This is pretty startling information because we talk about empathy a whole lot in this...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution

Facilitating Tough Crowds and Understanding Outrage

Most public sector facilitators will tell you that this work is getting tougher. I suggest that the trend of finding...
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Community Engagement

The Inform Level is Indispensable

If you’re at all familiar with the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum, you know that the range of...
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Community Engagement

Inside IAP2 Baseball

Are You Informed? If you’re at all familiar with the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Public Participation Spectrum, you...
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Community Engagement

BS on the Internet

One of the factors that tell you whether or not the people that you’re dealing with will be angry or...
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Communication Community Engagement

Helping People Get Comfortable with Change

Communication and engagement is at the core of successfully driving change in any organization or business, and with any kind...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution

Facilitation Tips: Gangs, Secret Clubs and Five Questions

Facilitation Tips and Belonging to a Gang? I belong to a motorcycle gang. I’m also in a bicycle club. I...
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Communication Community Engagement

Listen Up!

Active listening is a big but often disregarded part of real communication and public engagement, but sometimes it’s easy to...
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Community Engagement Consensus

Government Doesn’t Operate Like a Business

Because it isn’t a business, it serves a different purpose and the goals just aren’t the same. Government can learn...
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Community Engagement

Most Public Participation Sucks

We in the public involvement biz like to pat ourselves on the back about what a good job we do,...
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Community Engagement

Guess Who’s Coming to Your Meeting?

If you answered ‘an old white guy’ you win … congratulations! The following data shows that the preponderance of public participants...
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Communication Community Engagement

They Don’t Get It and They Won’t Remember It

Your mission and the work that you do is complex and full of detail. It may not be that complex...
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Communication Community Engagement

Start With a Question, Not Just Your Argument

Most institutions start their encounters and meetings with the public intending to transfer the data and information that exists in...
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Communication Community Engagement

Same Message, Different Audience = Different Approach

I just spent a couple of days with a group of very smart Midwest State agency people coaching their engineers...
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Community Engagement

Ask for Help

In the craft of successfully engaging people in solving problem or resolving issues, asking for help from those people helps...
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Community Engagement

BullX$%#

What is Normal? A constantly changing normal is the new normal. When you think about it, you realize that time...
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Community Engagement

Public Participation Primer

Public involvement is a practice that’s pretty simple in concept and complex in successful execution – after all, we’re dealing...
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Community Engagement

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...
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Community Engagement Trust

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...
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Community Engagement Trust

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...
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Communication Community Engagement

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...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Humble Pie

Government agencies are supposed to be the epitome of how a society organizes and authorizes things to be done for...
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Community Engagement

I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U? Good Governance Through Caring

Does Good Governance Require Care? Melania Trump went to the border to look at the kids several days ago and...
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Communication Community Engagement

Conversation Craftsmanship

Good communication and engagement starts with connections and that typically requires conversation. Our focus on tools and electronic media has...
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Community Engagement

Risk Communication Training: Los Angeles District Conducts Workshops

Risk Communication Training in Action The Participation Company recently had the honor to be involved in workshop facilitation and share...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution

The Need for a Strategic Communications Plan: Truth or Consequences

A Strategic Communications Plan Would Have Avoided Conflict A lack of communication by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution

Facilitation Skills Training Part Three: Webinar with John Godec

John Godec was asked to give a facilitation skill training to the IAP2 via webinar. As this training was for...
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Communication Community Engagement

It’s All About That Dialogue, No Trouble

This newsletter offers varying ideas and approaches for engaging and communicating better with the public, including presentations, words, (re)building trust,...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution

Facilitative Mediation Part Two: What Does a Facilitator Do with Emotions

John Godec was asked to be part of the IAP2 webinar training on the topics of facilitative mediation, emotions and...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution

Facilitative Mediation and the Emotional State: Webinar with John Godec

Recently, John Godec was asked to be part of the IAP2 webinar training. It was his great honor to present...
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Community Engagement Conflict Resolution Consensus

The Facilitator Role: Speaking Truth to Power

Power Balance Requires a Facilitator Role The subject of Power is so vast that it’s hard to tackle from any...
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Community Engagement

Current Public Policy Issues, Power and Corruption

I really do try to steer clear of the pure politics of public policy issues but it's impossible to ignore...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Choose Your Digital Tools Wisely for any Collaborative Process

Digital communication has truly transformed public participation but it’s not an automatic or comprehensive solution to working with the public....
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Community Engagement

Participation or Peddling?

Public policy and politics have vastly different objectives, but are now obviously mixed in the minds and perceptions of voters...
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Communication Community Engagement

Fear and Loathing in the Lunchroom

Engaging people starts with communicating and connecting and that’s just not easy or intuitive for a lot of people. You...
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Behavioral Science Community Engagement

I Can Explain It To You But I Can’t Understand It For You

The title above is one of those cute, arrogant bumper sticker quips that people sometimes wish they could say to...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

You’re Invited

We’ve talked a lot in past newsletters about the nuances of facilitating groups toward conclusions, but we haven’t yet said...
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Community Engagement Consensus

Consensus or Kumbaya

Consensus is, arguably, the true essence of effective democratic public policy. Crafting decisions that most people can live with isn’t...
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Behavioral Science Community Engagement Consensus

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This

Running better gatherings of people is an exercise in understanding human behavior. Here are the simple basics.
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Community Engagement Consensus

Meeting Facilitation Training: Craft Your Invitation

Meeting facilitation can be a complex art and science when the issues themselves are comparably complex. As we teach in...
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Communication Community Engagement

This Stoked Bro’s Speech to LA’s City Council is Epic

If this doesn’t make you want to shotgun a tall boy, nothing will.
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Communication Community Engagement

Asking the Right Questions

Max Hardy is a longtime Aussie mate and colleague of ours who, in this Ted talk, does a nice job...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Internal Engagement

We help organizations overcome dysfunction, both with the customers/public that they serve and internally. People need control of their lives...
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Community Engagement

Keeping Your Chin Up

These are tough days to be working in public service, especially federal government. It’s hard for people who have been...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Crisis Management Team: Tribes Save Lives

The thesis of this article is that the best, most effective crisis management team is You. And your neighbors and...
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Community Engagement

Public Opinion is Difficult to Define, and the Wrong Tool to Make Public Policy

America seems to love polls, and the media loves to feed us poll results on a daily basis, but what...
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Community Engagement

Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere

At the risk of revealing a dirty little blogging secret, the phrase I’ve used as the title of this article...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Documenting Citizens Advisory Board Advice

Citizens Advisory Boards are convened by government agencies to seek advice over time. Members are typically selected from diverse perspectives....
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Community Engagement

The Ultimate Pitfall of Online Public Engagement

We have all been there. Our clients want the latest and greatest online participation tools—not to enhance their programs, but...
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Community Engagement

What Is a Town Hall Meeting?

The world has changed. Maybe you like it better now; maybe you don’t. In either case, most people are feeling...
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Community Engagement

Setting the stage for social facilitation

Social facilitation, or the audience effect, is defined as the tendency for people to act differently with an audience than...
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Community Engagement

Designing an Effective Citizens Advisory Committee

Although federal agencies can be reticent to convene advisory committees (in part due to restrictions posed by the Federal Advisory...
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Community Engagement

Environmental Health People Need to Understand Optics

As the principal government agency responsible for enforcing federal law around our environmental health – clean air, water and waste...
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Community Engagement

Environmental Justice: Where Are We Headed?

Much of our public engagement practice over the decades has been woven into environmental reviews and issues. The recent spate...
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Community Engagement

Public Communication: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Digital communication has truly transformed public participation, from risk communication to online town hall meetings. However, it is not an...
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Community Engagement

The Town Hall Meeting Format is on Life Support

The Town Hall Meeting format will need to be thrown on the scrap heap for the next four years. It’s...
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Community Engagement

What about a community advisory board?

There are many terms for a community advisory board. These boards can be called citizens' working committees, public reference groups,...
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Community Engagement

How is Public Opinion Measured?

Election winners frequently tout their success as a mandate to do as they choose, suggesting that they have been ordained...
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Community Engagement

Rip Van Tweeter: Social Media and Public Participation

What if you were in a coma for six years and woke up to the social media apocalypse of 2016?...
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Community Engagement

Public Involvement? How About Some More Association?

  In the December 29 issue of the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes an interesting column on the trajectory of...
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Community Engagement

Let’s Hold a Town Hall Meeting!

What is a town hall meeting? In the United States, a town hall meeting is an informal public meeting, function,...
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Community Engagement

Ground Rules for Public Engagement

Across the US, civility is declining. We could argue about why – but the bottom line is that our communities’...
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Community Engagement

Shock & Awe: Crystallizing Public Opinion

Lots of things changed on November 8, not the least of which was our time-honored tradition of conducting and relying...
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Community Engagement

Community Development is at a Crossroad

Community development is in trouble. By that I mean people who work for government and who help develop communities are...
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Community Engagement

Ground Rules for a Successful Town Hall Style Meeting

Ground Rules for Citizen Engagement Across the US, civility is declining. We could argue about why, but the bottom line...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Think Globally, Practice Locally: A Community Outreach Strategy

In September, TPC presented a session at the IAP2 Annual conference in Montreal to explore key issues facing the future...
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Community Engagement

Truth and Reconciliation: A Crisis Management Plan Template from Canada

I’m thinking about the deplorable dissolution of respect and empathy for other people in our country these days. Who isn’t,...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

When Anger Has No Outlet

For the past thirty years, I have specialized in angry people. As a public participation specialist, I am often called...
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Community Engagement

The Power of Apology – Building Trust in Community Interactions

“Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.” ― John Wayne One of the hardest things for people – individuals or...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

When It Comes to Public Opinion, Conflict Avoidance is Not Conflict Prevention

Some quick thoughts about what we saw and heard at the September IAP2 North American conference in Montreal about capturing...
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Collaboration Community Engagement

Public Participation Survey Results: State of the Practice

This summer, we surveyed IAP2 leaders and practitioners about the condition of our field in 2016, and the public participation...
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Community Engagement

Community Involvement and Active Listening

Our partner, Dr. Marty Rozelle, recently wrote an article on dialogue in community involvement and the importance of listening to...
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Community Engagement

Community Involvement and Internet Trolls

The dictionary defines the verb trolling as making “a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting...
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Community Engagement

Community Engagement Strategies: A Lesson from Apollo 13

“Houston, we have a crisis.” --Crew of Apollo 13 Actually the Apollo 13 crew had a PROBLEM as well as...
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