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"Can our field present a united front to the new Administration? Let's start by seeing if we can develop a set of principles for public engagement we can all endorse..."

Vanilla 1.1.5a is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

    • CommentAuthorAndy
    • CommentTimeApr 1st 2009 edited

    Please note that although you are free to post comments here, we'd prefer you to...

    1. Provide feedback on the longer document posted at (the basic principles plus explanatory text about what to strive for and what to avoid).

    2. Determine whether your organization would be interested in endorsing the basic principles and their one-sentence descriptions, as posted at Let Sandy Heierbacher ([email protected]) know if your organization is likely to endorse the principles (we'll send you the final version on April 27th and make sure the endorsement is official). OR, let us know (by emailing Sandy or adding comments to the QuickTopic link above, what would need to be changed in order for your organization to endorse the principles.

    Core Principles for Public Engagement

    Developed collaboratively by members of leading public engagement organizations

    Draft 4-1-09

    There are many ways that people can come together to deal with issues that affect their lives. We believe that public engagement involves convening diverse yet representative groups of people to wrestle with information from a variety of viewpoints, in conversations that are well-facilitated, providing direction for their own community activities or public judgments that will be seriously considered by policy-makers and/or their fellow citizens.

    It is our stance that quality public engagement must take into consideration seven core principles if it is to effectively build mutual understanding, meaningfully affect policy development, and/or inspire collaborative action among citizens and institutions.

    The following seven principles overlap and reinforce each other in practice. They serve as ideals to pursue and as criteria for judging quality. Rather than promoting partisan agendas, the implementation of these principles generates authentic stakeholder engagement around public issues.

    The Seven Core Principles

    1. Planning and Preparation - Plan, design, and convene the engagement specifically to serve both the purpose of the effort and the needs of participants.
    2. Inclusion and Diversity - Incorporate diverse voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
    3. Collaboration and Shared Purpose - Support organizers, participants, and those engaged in follow-up to work well together for the common good.
    4. Listening and Learning - Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate public engagement efforts for lessons.
    5. Transparency and Trust - Promote openness and provide a public record of the people, resources, forums, and outcomes involved.
    6. Impact and Action - Ensure each participatory effort has real potential to make a difference.
    7. Sustained Participation and Democratic Culture - Promote a culture of participation with programs and institutions that support ongoing quality public engagement.

    This list represents a consensus in the field of dialogue and deliberation, but most practices tend to emphasize or apply these principles differently or to reach beyond this basic consensus in one way or another. To learn more about such diverse understandings and applications, consult the online version of these guidelines.

    Finally, we believe the use of technology should be generally encouraged whenever appropriate to enhance and not impede these seven values -- and also that these seven principles apply to both online and offline efforts. However, there is not yet consensus in our field on standards for the use of technology that would warrant the inclusion of specific online or electronic guidelines in this document.


    Plan, design, and convene the engagement to serve the purpose of the effort and the people who will participate.

    In high quality engagement: Participation begins when stakeholders, convenors and process experts engage together in the planning and organizing process, with adequate support. Together they get clear on their unique context, purpose and task, which then inform their process design as well as their venue selection, set-up and choice of participants. They create hospitable, accessible, functional environments and schedules that serve the participants' logistical, intellectual, biological, aesthetic, identity, and cultural needs. In general, they promote conditions that support all the qualities on this list.

    What to avoid: Untrained, inexperienced, or ideologically biased organizers design programs that do not fit the purpose of the effort or the community involved, or that do not respect and engage the relevant stakeholders. The venue is inaccessible, ugly, and confusing, and the poorly constructed schedule is inflexible or rushed, with inadequate time for doing what needs to be done. Logistical, class, racial, and cultural barriers to participation are left unaddressed, effectively sidelining marginalized people and further privileging elites, majorities, "experts", and partisan advocates


    Incorporate diverse voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.

    In high quality engagement: Convenors and participants reflect the range of functional stakeholder or demographic diversity within the community or on the issue at hand. Alternatively, participants are randomly selected to represent a microcosm of the public. Participants have the opportunity to grapple with data and perspectives that fairly represent different “sides” of the issue. Participants feel they are respected and their views are welcomed, heard, and responded to. Special effort is made to enable normally marginalized, silent, or dissenting voices to meaningfully engage -- and fundamental differences are clarified and honored. Where necessary, anonymity is provided to enable important contributions.

    What to avoid: Participants are mostly "the usual suspects" -- perhaps with merely token diversity added. Biased information is presented, and expert testimony seems designed to move people in a specific direction. People have little chance to speak out and, when they do, there is little sign they are actually heard or safe. Participants, stakeholders, or segments of the public feel their interests, concerns and ideas -- and they, themselves, as people -- are suppressed, ignored, or marginalized. Anonymity is used to protect abuses of power, not vulnerable critics.


    Support organizers, participants, and those engaged in follow-up to work well together for the common good.

    In high quality engagement: Organizers involve public officials, “ordinary people”, community leaders, and other interested parties as equal participants in conversations where differences are explored rather than ignored, and a shared sense of a desired future can emerge. People with different backgrounds and ideologies work together on every aspect of the engagement -- from planning and recruiting, to gathering and presenting information, all the way through to sharing outcomes and implementing agreed-upon action steps. In official deliberations, there is good coordination among relevant agencies dealing with the issue being deliberated.

    What to avoid: Unresponsive power-holders deliver one-way pronouncements or preside over adversarial, disrespectful or stilted conversations. Patronizing experts and authorities feel they already have "all the answers" and “listen” only to appease. Engagement has no chance of impacting policy because relevant decisions have already been made or are already in the pipeline, or because those in power are not involved or committed. Loud voices, mainstream views, or suppressive "rationality" dominate, and other voices and modes of expression are silenced or tolerated. Engagement feels pointless, lacking shared purpose and a link to action.


    Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate public engagement activities for lessons.

    In high quality engagement: Skilled neutral facilitators and simple guidelines encourage everyone involved to share their views, listen, and be curious in order to learn things about themselves, each other, and the issues before them. Shared intention and powerful questions guide participants' exploration of adequate, fair, and useful information -- and of their own disagreements -- in an open and respectful atmosphere. This exploratory atmosphere enables them to delve more deeply into complexities and nuances and thereby generate new understandings, possibilities, and/or decisions that were not clear when their conversation began. There is an appropriate balance between consulting (a) facts and expertise and (b) participants' experience, values, inner wisdom, vision, intuition, and concerns. Participants and leaders take away new skills and approaches to resolving conflicts, solving problems and making decisions. Careful review, evaluation, and a spirit of exploration and innovation improve subsequent engagement work and develop institutional and community capacity

    What to avoid: "Public participation" exercises go through the motions required by law or the dictates of PR before announcing a pre-determined outcome. Participants get on soapboxes or are repressed; fight or conform; get overridden or overwhelmed; and are definitely not listening to each other. Facilitation is weak or too directive, interfering with people's ability to communicate with each other openly, adjust their stances, and make progress. Assertive, mainstream, and official voices dominate. Available information is biased, scanty, overwhelming, or inaccessible -- and experts lecture rather than discuss and clarify. Lack of time or inflexible process make it impossible to deal with the true complexity of the issue. And organizers and facilitators are too busy, ideological, or insecure to properly review and evaluate what they've done.


    Promote openness and provide a public record of the people, resources, forums, and outcomes involved.

    In high quality engagement: People's attitudes and actions engender trust. Relevant information, activities, decisions, and issues that arise are shared in a timely way, respecting privacy where necessary. Process consultants and facilitators are helpful and realistic in describing their place in the field of public engagement and what to expect from their work. People experience planners, facilitators, and participants with official roles as straightforward, concerned, and answerable. Members of the public can easily access information, get involved, stay engaged, and contribute to the ongoing evolution of outcomes or actions the process generates. Video proceedings of government-sponsored deliberations are available online, both in real time and archives.

    What to avoid: It is hard, if not impossible, to find out who is involved, what happened, and why. Research, advocacy, and answerability efforts are stymied. Participants, the public, and various stakeholders suspect hidden agendas and dubious ethics. Participants not only don't trust the facilitators but are not open about their own thoughts and feelings


    Ensure each participatory effort has the potential to make a difference.

    In high quality engagement: People sense -- and can see evidence -- that their engagement was meaningful, influencing government decisions, empowering them to act effectively individually and/or together, or otherwise impacting the world around them. Communications -- media, government, business and/or nonprofit -- ensure the appropriate publics know the engagement is happening and talk about it with each other. The effort is productively linked to other efforts on the issue(s) addressed. Because diverse stakeholders understand, are moved by, and act on the findings and recommendations of the program, problems get solved, visions are pursued, and communities become more vibrant, healthy, and successful -- despite ongoing differences.

    What to avoid: Participants have no sense of having any effect -- before, during, or after the public engagement process. There is no follow-through from anyone, and hardly anyone even knows it happened, including other people and groups working on the issue. Participants' findings and recommendations are inarticulate, ill-timed, or useless to policy-makers -- or seem to represent the views of only a small unqualified group -- and are largely ignored or, when used, are used to suppress dissent. Any energy or activity catalyzed by the event quickly dies out


    Promote a culture of participation with programs and institutions that support ongoing quality public engagement.

    In high quality engagement: Each new engagement effort is linked intentionally to existing efforts and institutions -- government, schools, civic and social organizations, etc. -- so quality engagement and democratic participation increasingly become standard practice. Participants and others involved in the process not only develop a sense of ownership and buy-in, but gain knowledge and skills in democratic methods of involving people, making decisions and solving problems. Relationships are built over time and ongoing spaces are built in communities and online, where people from all backgrounds can bring their ideas and concerns about public affairs to the table and engage in lively conversation that has the potential to impact their shared world.

    What to avoid: Public engagements, when they occur, are one-off events isolated from the ongoing political life of society. For most people, democracy means only freedoms and voting and perhaps writing a letter to their newspaper or representative. For activists and public officials, democracy is the business-as-usual battle and behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Few people -- including public officials -- have any expectation that authentic, empowered public participation is possible, necessary, forthcoming, or even desirable. Privileged people dominate, intentionally or unintentionally undermining the ability of marginalized populations to meaningfully participate.


    Please note that Tom Atlee's detailed notes on changes that were made between version 2.4 and this version (3.0) are posted on the forum here.


    Nancy Thomas made this suggestion regarding the introductory piece at the beginning:

    "My point has to do with the larger goals of this work -- that we are not just trying to affect how decisions are made and who participates, but that we are doing this work to a particular end -- to advance democratic principles: freedom, justice, equality, and respect for others and for the privileges and responsibilities of citizenry. Perhaps this is its own category or introductory sentence."


    Here are all the organizations that have let me know, as of April 7th, that either plan to endorse the principles or are working on an official endorsement within their organization.

    Organizational Endorsements:

    Co-Intelligence Institute
    Contact:  Tom Atlee

    The Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University
    Contact:  Jim Fishkin

    Contacts:  Carolyn Lukensmeyer and Joe Goldman

    Public Dialogue Consortium
    Contacts:  Shawn Spano, Barnett Pearce and Kim Pearce
    Contact:  Lucas Cioffi

    Pennsylvania Conflict Resolution and Mediation Services, Inc.
    Contact:  Millicent Carvalho

    Forum Foundation
    Contact:  John Spady

    Common Knowledge
    Contact:  Susan Clark

    The Transforming Communication Project
    Contact: Barnett Pearce

    Omega Point International, Inc.
    Contact:  Stephanie Nestlerode

    The Broadwell Hill Learning Center and Resiliency Initiative
    Contact:  Kathy Jacobson, [email protected]

    Institute for Cultural and Environmental Understanding
    Contact: J. Allen Johnson

    Pearce Associates
    Contact: Barnett Pearce

    Working on organizational endorsements (indicated they are very likely to endorse):

    The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)
    Contact: Stephani Roy McCallum and Moira Deslandes

    The Association for Conflict Resolution's EPP (Environment and Public Policy)
    Contact:  Harry Manasewich

    Center for Partnership Studies
    Contact: David Loye, [email protected]

    Everyday Democracy
    Contacts:  Pat Scully and Martha McCoy

    Policy Consensus Institute
    Contact:  Chris Carlson

    Public Agenda
    Contacts:  Will Friedman and Alison Kadlec

    Community Building Institute
    Contact: Bill Potapchuk

    Jefferson Center
    Contact:  Ned Crosby

    League of Women Voters
    Contact:  Cheryl Graeve

    Individual Endorsements:

    Emily Jenke
    Community Engagement & Facilitation Specialist
    [email protected]

    Carol Warkoczewski
    Owner, Synergy Builders


    A couple more important suggestions to consider for the next version from Janette Hartz-Karp...

    1. There is really nothing about the principle of egalitarianism/equitable processes/the lens through which people determine if this is fair. True, it may be inferred under other headings, but to me, this is inadequate.
    Certainly egalitarianism has been critical to the theory of deliberation since Habermas and in my view, remains THE most important plank in terms of public credibility.

    2. There is nothing about innovation, finding new ways of doing things - as if we know all the answers and I firmly believe we are still in our infancy.

    • CommentAuthorhankjmatt
    • CommentTime4 days ago

    Egalitarianism has been critical to the theory of deliberation since Habermas and in my view, remains THE most important plank in terms of public credibility.
    club penguin cheats


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