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Thread: Public Consultation

  1. #1

    Public Consultation

    What would you look for in a consultant's proposals regarding public consultation activities? (for example, land use study for a rural village)

    What's the most creative/most effective method of public consultation that you have ever been part of?


  2. #2

    May 1997
    Williston, VT
    I think I can safely say that you are going to have an interesting time of it if you call it public consultation rather than public involvement or particpation (although Canadians generally are more polite and more accepting of their local governments than folks in the US). There are many effective methods and which you choose depends on your goals and the folks you are trying to involve. The most important thing is to get them involved as early as possible. If you go out to folks with a plan and ask what they think, you will seldom like the answer. The same plan will get an entirely different and more positive response if the folks were involved in its development.

    Having been a consultant who spent a great deal of time designing and managing public involvement I can tell this: it isn't very profitable to do a good job because the public process is so time-consuming. So, look for consultant proposals to minimize this part of the task unless your RFQ or RFP makes your expectations clear. Also presume that this part of the effort will require considerable staff involvement, as well as considerable time from your appointed and elected officials, if it is going to be successful.

    I don't have the links handy, but you can find descriptions of the process in some places on the Web. I think there is a relatively complete narrative of the process in Douglas County, WA on the county web site: look for their "vision plan." There is also an account of the public process in the draft plan for NE Santa Cruz County, AZ. Try searching for the Sonoita Crossroads Community Forum. A book that may be helpful is Luther Propst, and others', Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities. And while it doesn't provide the context, the U of Minnesota Extension Publication Facilitation Resources has a lot of useful information about technique.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    I would agree with everythin Lee said. Decide for yourselves, beforehand, what your minimum requirements are for public input. Our contracts will often include such things as "a minimum of ten one-on-one meetings with significant property owners or businesses in the study area" and "two public hearings in front of the Plan Commission." Do you want a survey of the community? web site? other means of communicating with the public? Spell it out to them, because they will try to minimize it.

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