Goodwill Hunting

The ideas of civil discourse, conflict resolution and evidence-based decision making feel like they’ve been turned on their ear over the past few weeks. Knowing that scientists are copying years of climate change data for fear that it might vanish under the new administration is pretty surreal. Also, some conspiracy fans and extremists now feel that the incoming administration has given them permission to act on their feelings about those other people.

Just rolling over to this new reality isn’t an option. The rest of us need to keep pushing for the better angels of our nature and working on goodwill, reason and bridging the great divide in the days ahead.

I’ll leave you this month with one of my favorite quotes from the nine-times-married, late Zsa Zsa Gabor: “I’m a marvelous housekeeper.  Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Festivus…

Stay Curious,


Making Christmas Miracles  

It’s too early to know how environmental public policy and decisions might change in the coming days, but the people soon to be in charge are certainly stacking up to be a sea change. For now, I will choose to view our sippy cup as half full and remind myself of the old adage that “where you stand is based on where you sit.”

These new cabinet selections will be sitting in very different seats than they have in the past and they’ll have profound problems to solve and tough issues to reconcile. Consider the possibilities, the first from our TPC blog (which you might want to subscribe to, by the way):

Many people would argue that people’s trust and understanding of environmental health and safety risks is based on science, research and evidence-based decision making. Unfortunately, many people would be wrong…

Finding the miracle and fixing whatever ails public policy in the U.S. ultimately requires all of us to understand how we got here in the first place. This article explains it really well:

We’ll leave this topic with an environmental appeal from my pal & colleague Dr. Marc Lame, and one of his doctoral students and former Marine Corps officer Drew Marcantonio, at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA):

Impacting an Audience  

This very brief audio clip will give you some exceptional insights into how to connect, move and motivate the people that you’re trying to reach. Listen:

One of the challenges that we run into helping some clients with their public presentations is in getting them comfortable when their “talk” is interrupted by questions or comments. How you handle those situations may be more important than what you’d planned to say in the first place. Here’s some help:

Minding the Gap  

The widening disconnect (or the perception of disconnect) between government and the public that it serves is something that we’ll continue to address in the coming year. Fixing this has to start with empathy on the part of government officials…


With “post-truth” being the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year and “surrealism” being Merriam-Webster’s, 2017 is shaping up to be challenging for fans of reason. Here’s the reality:

Trust is the New Black  

For many years we’ve understood that the root of our conflict resolution consulting work, training, government and business public project management is public trust. Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed. Even Ford Motor Company knows what Abraham Lincoln knew…

Government clients frequently argue that people must trust what they do because almost everything they do is available to the public and this ‘transparency’ makes them and their policies trusted. It doesn’t:

This article is overly simple and I debated whether or not I’d even offer it here. However, its wisdom lies between the lines. The recommendations are fine for a lot of business and government communication and public presentation, but I suggest that you read between the lines and look for the tone and what saying these things imply…

Conflict Resolution Strategies & Conflict Resolution Techniques

Our job is helping you do yours. The Participation Company (TPC) partners facilitate, consult, coach and train public- and private-sector people with their community conflicts and engagement programs.

Open registration International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Phoenix, AZ:  January 23 – 27
* Arlington, VA: February 6 – 10
* Austin, TX: March 27 – 31
* Orlando, FL: May 1 – 5
* Denver, CO: June 5 – 9
* Chicago, IL: June 26 – 30

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

* Austin, TX: April 27 – 28
* Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ: July 20 – 21
* Chicago, IL: August 17 – 18
* Denver, CO (pending)
* Arlington, VA (pending)

Click on to
to join us and watch for more courses in 2017.

You’ll also find lots more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Marty Rozelle, Doug Sarno and me at

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

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