Core Values Awards 2006
IAP2 developed the Core Values awards program as a way to recognize excellence in public participation as weighed against our Core Values. Each year, we seek to honor a project of the year and an organization of the year. And in some years, we also recognize projects and organizations with a special recognition award. Our 2006 winners hail from both the northern and southern hemispheres.
They represent local and provincial government as well as a citizen’s group and recognize distinctly different projects—and distinctly difference processes. But all share a common commitment to IAP2’s Core Values for Public Participation—and that is what we honor.
Special Recognition Awards
- BC Hydro, Integrated Electricity Planning Process, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Maribyrnong City Council, (Re)visioning Footscray, Footscray, Victoria, Australia
- Mirivac Fini’s Seascapes Beach Steering Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
IAP2’s 2006 Project of the Year award is presented to the city of Longmont, Colorado, USA, for the Focus on Longmont project. Focus on Longmont was a citywide strategic planning effort to develop community-supported strategic policies that, if implemented, will move the city toward a sustainable future as it approaches build out within its planning boundaries. City leaders defined a sustainable future as achieving a balance between the resources and expenditures needed to sustain the city’s capacity to provide desired levels of municipal services and a healthy, balanced community whose economic, environmental and social needs are met.
Appreciative inquiry was used to begin the process by discovering the best of Longmont and envisioning sustainable futures. The city’s leadership team organized a 35-person coordinating team to plan the details of how to involve the community in this crucial planning process. Through one-on-one interviews, community conversations, best in class interviews and a community summit, people all across the community took part in thoughtful conversations about the city’s future.
Phase 2 involved community choice making on policy directions. Here community members participated in deliberative forums where people engaged in “choicework” to work through future directions for the community. These forums revealed the community’s shared views about priorities for future action. Here, participants explored four directions outlined in a deliberation guide.
The results of these forums were evaluated to learn what Longmont residents value about life in their community and the kind of community they want in the future. Rather than choosing one direction to the exclusion of the other three, five central themes emerged along with one overarching recommendation as the common ground.
Participants urged City Council to be strategic and balanced in making policies and to be wise stewards of public resources. Draft policy directions were refined at a community workshop and shared with the community at large. A final report was presented to City Council. So far, city council has begun efforts to address three of the five policy directions.
What made this project stand out? Here are a few things the judges noted. Longmont was committed to improving its efforts to involve the community. City staff were bold and innovative. They were inspired to try a better way in developing a citywide strategic plan. The city embraced organizational transformation and sought to involve the whole system in seeking solutions.
While there is much more I could say about this project, I’d like to close by quoting from a letter submitted to the local newspaper after the Community Summit by a citizen who had at time been critical of the city’s growth management strategies. H
eadline: Democracy is not a spectator sport! In a partylike atmosphere, over 150 Longmont residents gathered Saturday to learn about each other and discuss ideas for the future of their city…It was fast-paced. Driven by a cadre of consultants keeping us on a tight time schedule, our original groups of 8 were repeatedly shuffled as we moved among meeting rooms and discussion topics. What was truly unique was bringing together senior and junior citizens, past and present city councilors, city staff, civic activists, city advisory board volunteers and members of Longmont’s power structure. An inspiring camaraderie developed which bodes well for the future of Longmont.
The challenge is how to go about achieving the future Longmont we all want. Participants must organize and out public and private decision makers must welcome their involvement and not be dismissive of it….
An active, engaged citizenry, studying these present situations and future probabilities while communicating continuously through the local newspaper to the wider community can guarantee that Longmont decisionmakers will steer a safe course into the future.
IAP2’s 2006 Organization of the Year award is made to Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver Coastal Health is a large public agency providing health services through 14 hospitals, 14 community health centers, mental health and addiction programs and residential care facilities.
VCH and other health care organizations in Canada operate in an environment of public scrutiny and are increasingly viewed as in crisis and under threat of privatization. This public attention creates challenges for engagement. The public is often cynical about meaningful engagement opportunities and concerned about the direction of the public system. Organizational leaders are often reticent to engage with an angry public and uncertain about what engagement will mean for them.
VCH is also challenged by the nature of the health care system, which is driven by the notion of expert knowledge—or the “doctor knows best” approach to health care. Today, internet-equipped actively engaged patients are better informed and independent in accessing health care options.
While doctors are coming to accept this new way of interacting with patients in individual care situations, involving lay people in system design planning and policy decisions still has a way to go.
VCH, formed in 2002, to consolidate regional health care, absorbed several systems with active infrastructures and processes for involving community members. There was not, however, a high degree of sophistication or deep understanding of the value of engagement. VCH leadership did recognize that these structures provided opportunities for partnerships, had pre-empted community issues from flaring up and had assisted with decision making.
Building on this base, VCH expanded its community engagement activities linking them to program, planning and policy decision-making. Examples of the more than 70 engagement processes involving a wide range of publics include:
A transgender health program where VCH engaged members of this marginalized community to redesign the provincewide program for transgender medicine. Previously, this program was hospital-based, run by professionals and without a peer component. Today, the program is community-based, run by transgender people themselves with a strong peer component. And a group of transgender clients set up an international consortium of the most respected specialists in transgender medicine from Europe, Canada and the US, after determining that the clinical guidelines were out-of-date and counter productive. These physicians are now collaborating with the transgender community on re-writing the international guidelines for care.
A palliative care strategy where VCH engaged bereaved family members to redesign the regional palliative care services. The outcome is a shift in the strategy away from hospital-based palliative services to community-based hospices and support for people to die at home. Public participation in this program resulted in changes to resource allocation, policy, programming and staffing decisions across the region.
Youth mental health services where VCH engaged young people living with mental health issues to influence policy and program direction. VCH staff worked with a team of youth facilitators from a community organization to design a participatory workshop for youth to learn about and propose new directions for the VCH service plan. The outcome of this effort is an alignment of the service plan with youth priorities, an influx of new resources for community development, new money for supported housing for youth, a new youth-driven arts program focused on depression and a partnership with a youth-serving agency to develop an ongoing youth engagement process and structure.
IAP2 Core Values Special Recognition Awards
British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority is recognized for its work to engage the citizens of British Columbia, Canada, in the Integrated Electricity Planning process. BC Hydro sought to open up the electricity planning process so that deliberation could occur around the technical information while considering people’s values and the choices and challenges facing BC Hydro and the people of the province. To do that, BC Hydro used a structured decision process that integrated technical analysis and values-based discussions, harnessing these diverse elements to make better decisions. This helped to ensure all participants’ values were included—even while their objectives were conflicting, BC Hydro used stakeholder values to focus the data gathering and analysis to generate information that mattered to the participants. Finally, BC Hydro’s project team engaged stakeholders in presenting the technical analysis and conclusions to the rest of the Provincial Committee and later to explain the Provincial Committee’s deliberations and conclusions throughout the province.
The results of this process are a call for tenders that featured the non-price factors emphasized by the Provincial Committee participants, a cost-effective plan to replace BC’s only large thermal generating plant in a staged and flexible manner as it reaches the end of its useful lifespan, a significant increase in energy conservation efforts across the province in concert with BC’s provincial government and new relationships with nongovernmental organizations, First Nations participants and the general public.
Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray, Victoria, Australia is recognized for its work in engaging the community in (re)Visioning Footscray. The challenge was to engage a local community of great diversity—both in culture and language as well as life stage and lifestyle. The judges particularly wanted to note the council’s willingness to adapt its planned approach to capacity-building to meet the needs of its community.
By relying on an action learning methodology, one event, a Visioning Workshop, was changed to a more targeted consultation activity based on the low interest level. “It didn’t serve to attract the people we had hoped to attract, so we changed the methods,” the team explained.
Community facilitators were able to interact in nine languages to meet the needs of this diverse community. “Clipboard query” public space interviews using visual surveys in strategic public areas, future-mapping focus groups aimed at mapping elements to keep or change, guided tours and interviews and “week with a camera” to provide visual documentation were among the targeted consultation techniques applied. A Search Conference, a SpeakOut and the use of an interactive display at the city council office were some of the ways this team reached out to engage their diverse community.
While there were many and varied outcomes, this project resulted in a collaboratively generated vision statement for Footscray. This document was adopted by the Maribyrnong City Council and the council had now begun to implement the vision. Using unique, collaborative engagement approaches gave the community opportunities to articulate their preferred vision and policy directions before the city council laid out a transit plan.
Mirivac Fini’s Seascapes Beach Steering Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia is recognized for their work to engage citizens in a “co-design” process. The challenge was how to create a safe swimming beach while minimizing environmental damage along the pristine coastline in the Peel region near Perth, Western Australia. Given the open and rugged coastline, constructing a groyne was the most obvious engineering solution—but this proposal was likely to meet with strong community resistance given the ongoing debates about the impact of past enhancements along the southwest coastline. The developer, Mirvac Fini, viewed public participation as an appropriate strategy to engage the stakeholders to determine what, if any, beach enhancements should occur.
Initial participation efforts led to the participants deciding they needed to form a steering group. The Seascapes Beach Steering Group formed their terms of participation and developed a decisionmaking process. Consultants were positioned as technical consultants for the steering group, providing support and not serving as members. In this way, the coastal engineers, business, community development and environmental scientists helped build the steering group’s knowledge and capacity while not overshadowing them.
The outcome was a new option –do something—where the project focal point shifted to positioning the town centre and public open space as focal points and making sections of the adjacent beach swimming without the large scale impacts of something line a groyne.
The Seascape Beach Steering Group succeeded in designing an effective and inclusive process that was 90 percent satisfying to 90 percent of the stakeholders. The approach also represented a long-term investment in building goodwill, trust and relationships among a range of key stakeholders in the Peel region.