I Love the Smell of Public Involvement in the Morning

Well, it’s been quite a year. Our Participation Company posse has been fortunate enough to do rewarding work for good people, and we celebrated a move for Wendy, a marriage for Doug and healthy growth for all.

On the big stage, neither the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon nor the collective novels of L. Ron Hubbard — the holiest books combined — could have predicted the state of the U.S. Presidential campaign so far, and we still have a year to go. Keep a bottle of Pepto Bismol close, and hang onto your antlers.

So, as the sun slowly sets on 2015, I hope you’re able to spend some true quality time with your loved ones — without your family finding out (Rimshot!)

Happy Holidays, Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas.


Real Public Involvement Works. Duh.  

Success stories about authentic public involvement abound — we  all know that it works. However, stories about decision failures when affected people are not really engaged are still the most common…just pick up a newspaper or click any online news site.

As such, it’s nice when you find a business-driven, potentially controversial siting account of how it can go really right:


Say What?  

We’ve talked before about active listening being the most ignored and easily dismissed communication skill; however, you probably weren’t paying attention. A colleague of ours in OZ wrote about it recently…here’s Stuart’s view from under the Southern Cross:


Listening well is great for building business and public service relationships, not to mention its side benefit of making you even more lovable than you already are…


The Tangled Web  

The world is continuing to shift its focus more and more towards online sources of information. As such, it’s helpful to know a few things about the public sector’s trends that will help you deal more effectively with stakeholders.

We know, for example, that you’re most likely to be reading this on a mobile device today as opposed to a laptop or desktop computer than you would have been even six months ago. And the average adult attention span – hey, there goes a squirrel! – is now eight seconds.  Best of luck…


When was the last time that the public ever thought of any bureaucracy as human, much less funny? That said, I’m glad to say that my home state and one long-time client manages to accomplish just that:


Do They Really Get It?  

It’s your job to make sure that people understand what you’re trying to communicate to them. It’s not their job to figure you out. This isn’t an easy task…if it was, lawyers would be doing it:


More fun facts to know and tell: did I mention that the average adult attention span is eight seconds? Reports say that attention spans have shrunk by 33 percent in just the last 15 years, and people now check their mobile devices 150 times a day…


The Year the Music Died (Something just for Fun)  

OK, so it didn’t actually happen in 2015…it was several years ago that popular music began its trajectory into major suckage. I realize that expressing this fact may elicit deeply offended responses from some fans of Fetty Wap, The Weekend and The Bieb.

That’s OK…I have thick skin. As a former highly trained disc-professional as well as a card-carrying member of the generation that invented rock & roll, I also feel that I am indeed qualified to pass judgment on this kind of music.

Look, I’m not saying that all music sucks. There are lots of exceptions and you can still find great stuff on Pandora, Spotify, and other online sources just like Netflix and Amazon now compensate for lousy network and cable TV. It’s simply getting harder to find good music on terrestrial radio stations or even Sirius/XM. Nevertheless, the attached mashup is a pretty cool collection of the hits that you successfully avoided. You can thank me in 2016:


Growing Your Career in 2016

People who take our workshops and courses come from federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Transportation (DOT), Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and just about every other federal, state, regional, local and tribal agency. Others include global governments, NGO’s and hundreds of businesses – anyone who works with the public on difficult issues.

The Participation Company delivers a variety of customized workshops in one- to five-day lengths dealing with public involvement, (re) building trust in government, conflict resolution, risk communication, public engagement for tech-types, group facilitation and many other related topics. We can help you get your job done better.
* If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there… – Yogi

* I just wanted to let you know that the class I attended yesterday was the most professional, interesting, and worthwhile class…I ever attended. – Catherine, Arizona Highways Magazine

* …excellent presentation over the five-day course. We appreciate your skill in presenting so much material and for your keen ability to read and pace to the crowd. That was rather remarkable, I thought. – Maria, APS

* I am convinced that this course will be of tremendous value to our staff. – Tom, Urban Systems

* …after the great job you did with our class last week.  Thanks again for the hard work you invested in making sure we had a valuable learning experience! – Ann, Booze, Allen Hamilton

* As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken. – Geoff, BLM

Some of The Participation Company’s upcoming International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes, open to everyone, include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016
* Fort Collins, CO: February 2 – 3, 2016 (2-Day Techniques)
* Phoenix, AZ: February 29 – March 4, 2016
* Chicago, IL: April 4 – 8, 2016
* Austin, TX: April 18 – 22, 2016
* Great Falls, MT: 2016 Dates Pending (3-Day Planning)
* Fairmont, MT: 2016 Dates Pending (2-Day Techniques)

The IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation 2-Day Course:

* Phoenix, AZ: May 4 -5, 2016
* Chicago, IL: June 15 – 16, 2016
* Austin, TX: (Dates Pending)
* Arlington, VA: (Dates Pending)

Other 2016 locations are in the works and we routinely customize in-house curriculum and workshops for clients’ very specific issues and challenges.

Click on http://TheParticipationCompany.com for details and registration information.

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

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