PI WORKS 2011Summary of PresentationsPrepared by conference scholarship students Francesca Patricolo, Elaine Phillips and ...
The challenge was in reaching out to find the public. The Army Corps of Engineerscreated an informative video to help peop...
In branding, they wanted to be customer-centric, credible, transparent, consistent, andempathetic. They used opportunities...
into an ally. ODOT empathized with the downtown merchants and worked on theirbehalf. ODOT created special signage for the ...
million dollars. It was intended to replace one mile of I-5 that was unable to handle the weightof freight trucks and will...
Spady and Blakinger took the group through a “world café” discussion as an example of anotherformat that can be used in a ...
EMF’s –electric magnetic fields—are another common concern that troubles many people.Even when BPA provided facts that den...
There are three goals:   •   To increase public knowledge and participation.   •   To increase civic capacity of Oregon Co...
• internal departmental competition         • lack of staff training   •   small side conversation about difference betwee...
He made the reporter an ombudsman•   Fostering relationships with other community-based organizations helps Metro and the ...
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2011 PI Works Session Summaries


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Session Summaries from the 2011 IAP2 Cascade Chapter "PI Works" conference in Bend, Oregon.

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2011 PI Works Session Summaries

  1. 1. PI WORKS 2011Summary of PresentationsPrepared by conference scholarship students Francesca Patricolo, Elaine Phillips and ClaireTurpel Jeanne Lawson and Carie Fox Power of Purpose: Knowing Why and When to do Public InvolvementJeanne and Carie appeared to really enjoy co-presenting! They began by delivering amessage about the importance of ‘getting clear about the purpose’ of the projects we doas public participation practitioners. They said that consensus about the purpose needsto happen before consensus can be reached for a conclusion. Purpose is about gettingthe best decision and considers all the values of the community. A quality decisionprovides accountability and legitimacy. Jeanne referred to the Magna Carta and U.S.Constitution to prove that public participation is a fundamental value in western foundingheritage and is as important as religion is to us. We also learned about confirmationbias which needs diversity to be counter-acted. Confirmation bias is something allpeople do and has nothing to do with intelligence. What happens is we make a decisionabout something right away and then everything we see after that is seen through alens that supports that initial decision.Carie compared mediation to public participation and asked “What do participants wantto get out of participation?” She said that no studies exist, no one has asked participantswhy they participate. The National Academy of Science says that if there were a betterprocess, there would be a better decision, but that is not true in part because one mustconsider why people participate/ what they want to get out of the participation. Thislaunched an activity of table group conversations about what folks think is the purposeof their involvement in public participation. Each table was assigned a participant grouprole title (such as “public full time advocates”) and asked to discuss two things: what therole wants to get out of a public participation process, and how they would measure ifthey got what they wanted out of the process. Amy Echols & Erik Peterson Dam Gates: Communicating risks, actions, and responsibilitiesAging and outdated infrastructure is expensive and takes a lot of time but waiting to dosomething about it only makes it worse. ASCE Report Card shows that Americaninfrastructure is a “D” at nearly all levels. The dams in the Willamette Valley were notbuilt to provide electricity, they were built to prevent flooding. Failing dams presents ahuge issue for the Southern Willamette Valley. For the Army Corps of Engineers, theSouthern Willamette Valley public had to learn risks and consequences of the aginginfrastructure of the dams they regulate. Public participation on this project was only asinforming.PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 1
  2. 2. The challenge was in reaching out to find the public. The Army Corps of Engineerscreated an informative video to help people in the community learn about theinfrastructure and its need for improvement. In the informational video, they decided togive background and context first and then describe the problem. Inform, collaborate,empower was the mission of the video. Maps in the video helped give people contextand history so that they could be empowered. Separating the video into different partswas a good idea because it helps to be able to select parts to show people and to allowpeople to select the parts of the story they want to see and in the order they would liketo see them. Key messages were important to form because now they can be used overand over. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented every time there is an earthquakeand the same questions arise regarding the aging infrastructure. They did not knowwhat the public wanted to know so they started out giving a lot of technical data.Participants in this session discussed the value of establishing a platform for consistentinternal agency and external communication, the challenge of describing a highlycomplex flood reduction system, potential risk and engineering concerns to layaudiences, the advantages and pitfalls of communications planning and implementationbased on evolving engineering and risk assessments, staging outreach to buildgovernment, stakeholder and public understanding of the situation, and the value andlimitation of traditional outreach for a broad spectrum of stakeholders.Issues include that there was no corporate perspective on the risk so they had toidentify conclusive understanding at the technical level. There was also urgency ingetting out to the public so that they could be on board and don’t end up standing inwater. They had a good relationship with the newspaper reporter, which helped theprocess -saved it from getting worse. Jeff Selby Meet LOIS: Branding the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer ProjectLake Oswego needed to upgrade an interceptor sewer below a privately owned lakeknowing it would be the biggest public works project in the city’s history. To prepare forpublic involvement, the City tried to think of a catchy name for the project and a logo.They found it useful to take a perspective that always looked for ways to find “What’s init for them (the private homeowners surrounding the lake that own the lake)?” So theyreminded people this could be an opportunity to do some work on their homes, etc. Thesystem benefited 80% of the community, not just the homes around the lake.The city hired a professional documentary filmmaker to film the divers who inspectedthe interceptor and pointed out the large cracks, etc. to show the evidence to the public.This backed up the legitimacy of why the upgrade was needed. Access to the lake wasa challenge and they also had to plan around impacts to the boating season. Now theyare handing out “Thank you” posters and squeeze toys that say “LOIS: On time andUnder budget” as a way to further improve the City’s image of responsibility andreliability.PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 2
  3. 3. In branding, they wanted to be customer-centric, credible, transparent, consistent, andempathetic. They used opportunities to collaborate with neighbors. One example is aneighbor who said they do green roofing and worked with the City to put a green roof onthe pump station. They had a LOIS brand promise that included involvement, proactiveand reactive communication tools, good neighbor plans (timeline, noise, hours of work,and restoration, meet the contractor meetings, consistently updated website, dynamicemails (My Emma), and social media. The meet the contractor meetings included briefpresentations covering smells, noise, etc., and answering questions. The contractorsunderstood the importance of public outreach (with some nudging). It was great for boththe public and the contractors! The City Tweeted road closures and importantinformation on the project. It was free, easy, and allowed people to receive theirinformation in different ways. They used the the logo, look, and feel over and over inevery way for consistency. They had LOIS stickers for the helmets of contractors.Very successful project, and a recipient of an IAP2 award! Penny Mabie & Susan Hanson Survival Strategies for Highly Emotional Issues and Moving from Public Anger to AcceptanceThe Willamette River Bridge (Oregon City/ West Linn) is 89 years old and has had verylimited work done to maintain it. It is deteriorating and will need to be repaired. Peoplewere angry because the bridge will have to be completely closed for two years. ODOTwent out and told everyone the bridge would be closed for one year but then had to goback and tell the public that it will really take two years. This caused a lack of trust forODOT that was compounded by a general mistrust of government. ODOT was seen asoutsiders who don’t understand the local community’s needs. The community had a lotof questions about project costs.Workshop participants brainstormed ways to improve the situation, including getting theloudest critics involved in a positive way, hiring an outside neutral consultant, andgetting a highly trusted political figure on board as an ally to help rally support. Susanended up walking the streets of the community, attending community meetings andevents, getting to be the friendly public face of ODOT to help build trust back. Therewas a contract in place that provided penalties to ODOT if they closed the bridge longerthan they said they would so they were accountable for delivering to the public.The economic impact of closing the bridge was a big issue. The Oregon City downtownis struggling and the closure would provide a hardship for businesses. There was a badeconomy so businesses were already suffering, drive by visibility was eliminated, alawsuit for economic mitigation was filed, and the project was making the DowntownManager’s job harder (he’s supposed to attract new businesses). Workshop participantsnoted they could make the situation better by working with construction crews aboutpatronizing the businesses, hiring locals to work on the project, and providing anddistributing coupons. What ODOT did was include the Downtown Manager to turn himPI Works Summary of Presentations Page 3
  4. 4. into an ally. ODOT empathized with the downtown merchants and worked on theirbehalf. ODOT created special signage for the businesses, gave them money, used thedowntown businesses for their project work needs whenever possible, and included (inall project updates to the public) a note that the downtown businesses are open.Another issue was bicycle and pedestrian access since some individuals were quiteimpacted. Mitigation ideas include a ferry or shuttle service, a zip line, and allowing onlypedestrians to cross. ODOT actually hired a traffic consultant to create a plan for this.The most cost-effective solution was to have a shuttle. They convened a group ofstakeholders and they ended up being on board in the end once they were brought intothe planning process and understood all the information at hand. The task force groupended up being very helpful for the process. The economic fallout was not as bad asanticipated and the shuttle service has been a huge success. Involving folks in theplanning process was very helpful. Bringing elected officials and media on board earlyalso helped.Aurora Bridge in Seattle was built in 1932, has the second rate of highest suicides in theU.S. Every word matters when working on a project to improve this bridge with suicidefencing because there is a lot of emotion involved. The issues included opposition tosuicide prevention, opposition to changing the historic bridge (views of the bridge andfrom the bridge), opposition to spending money on fences instead of preventionservices, and opponents didn’t feel safe to express their concerns about the project.What they did was stakeholder interviews, paid attention to key messaging, did tons ofresearch, sought out what community values exist by having a workshop and a neutralpresentation, had a community design charette and open house, and then a conceptualdesign report. This became a safety project instead of a suicide prevention project.Assessment was critical, reframing of the problem (solution) was key, addressing theissue by talking about safety instead of suicide helped, and being creative was critical.ODOT Leaps into the Blogosphere: The Willamette River Bridge Blog:Presented by:Jyll Smith, Major Projects Branch Public Affairs, chairs Social Media Working Group at ODOT, andSuzanne Roberts , Senior Account Representative at Edelman, a global public relations firm.It took Jyll Smith more than three years to convince ODOT management that it would be a goodpublic relations move to start a blog about what the department does. They finally decided totry it as part of their communications about the Willamette River Bridge replacement project inEugene.The bridge project, which began in 2003 and is scheduled for completion in 2013, is the biggestfederal project for repairing and replacing bridges in the United States and is budgeted at $201PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 4
  5. 5. million dollars. It was intended to replace one mile of I-5 that was unable to handle the weightof freight trucks and will save those trucks 200 miles of detours through central Oregon.This is a very visible project in a highly engaged community. Near the University of Oregon,Autzen Stadium, Alton Baker Park and the well used running and bike paths in Eugene, thepublic has a front row seat to this project and wants to know what is happening on a regularbasis. This is the ideal situation for a blog which can provide information and a forum for on-going discussion, questions and answers that will keep the public informed and involved in apositive way.The advantages of using a blog to engage the public include creating a new digital pipeline forinformation that is not available elsewhere. The blog creates a forum for agency createdcontent that opens a dialogue with the public. The blog can address controversial issuesquickly, and keeps the Citizen Advisory Group better informed between meetings. ODOT posts2-3 times per week, and it takes 8-16 hours of staff time to do this. There are no ghost writers;the managers write the blogs with Cawood Communications, and Jyll moderates the site. Therehave been very few problems with inappropriate posts. Edelman oversees the schedule andtracks each post from initial concept through final posting.On average there are 90 views per week, and the site has been visited over 11,000 times. Someof the lessons learned are that the public does look at old blogs, and headings are really helpfulfor assisting people in finding what they are looking for.Citizen Engagement through Applied Community ForumsJohn Spady of Countywide Community Forums in King County, WA and John Blakinger, DialogHost for Civilsay.org, a blog site supported by the City Club of Central Oregon.John Spady explained that Countywide Community Forum is a public engagement technologyand is the result of an initiative that was sponsored by John’s father Richard, the co-found ofSeattle’s Dick’s Drive-in. Two to four times a year, registered citizen councilors are invited tomeet at a time and place of their choice in homes, libraries or work places throughout KingCounty to learn more about an issue that matters to them, discuss it with the group andcomplete a detailed survey on their views. The survey results are communicated back toparticipants, members of the King County Council, other government officials, members of themedia, and the general public. The King County Auditor makes sure this input is balanced forthe King County Council. This is a self-selected process. Like voting—whoever comes is heard.The way the process works is that small groups gather (or individuals can do this online) andreview materials (often there is a video) and then discuss the issue that is of concern. Everyonehas a chance to give their opinion without interruption in a “round robin” format. After thisthere is an open discussion. Lastly, the participants fill out an “opinionnaire” (survey) that willbe made available to the decision-makers (typically, the local elected officials). John had thegroup take a survey to understand how easily the “Polll Everywhere” survey tool works. (It’sfree for audiences of less than 30; www.polleverywhere.com ). It can easily be taken with acell phone if a computer isn’t available.PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 5
  6. 6. Spady and Blakinger took the group through a “world café” discussion as an example of anotherformat that can be used in a citizen engagement process. It involved setting up several tablesthat each had a topic that needed to be discussed. Each table had a host that remained at thetable, while the other participants moved to different tables and had discussions at each for aset period of time. In this way, everyone became educated about the topic and had a chance tohear what others had to say about it, enabling them to potentially broaden theirunderstanding.BPA’s High Voltage SuperhighwayMaryam Asgharian, Public Affairs Specialist, Bonneville Power AdministrationMaryam started her presentation by providing a word cloud image of how people think of BPAand explaining how to use a new tool, Wordle to do this. (Wordle is a toy for generating “wordclouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appearmore frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, andcolor schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You canprint them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery. http://www.wordle.net/ )A year and a half ago, BPA initiated a project to establish the best transmission route fromCastle Rock to Troutdale, a 70 mile stretch. They had to send notice to people along thecorridor about developing the best route, and they needed to begin to plan for buying propertyand easements for the project. Because BPA needs time to look at the alternatives, regionalresidents were not sure what to expect, or when. EIS and NEPA processes mandate that BPAlooks at all the options.To help with this, BPA planned a number of public participation events. A primary goal of thesepublic engagement events was to encourage the public to move away from complaints andencourage them to suggest ways to mitigate problems. One type of event was a series of openhouses that included local elected officials and provided people with project information. Largemaps were hung and participants had an opportunity find their homes on the maps so that theycould see how they might be personally affected. BPA provided issue briefs and maps to showwhat possibilities there are, along with potential access roads and information about theadvantages of one route over another.These efforts required approximately 50 staff members who answered questions about theneed for transmission lines, the effects on property values, property rights and safety. Someconstituents thought that these lines were being built just to sell more power to California.(This isn’t accurate; excess energy is sold to California which keeps our rates low, but that’s notthe reason. We want to keep our supply reliable. Having another path [we have one that goeseast to Montana as well] protects us in case something happens.])PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 6
  7. 7. EMF’s –electric magnetic fields—are another common concern that troubles many people.Even when BPA provided facts that denied there would be health problems, the concern wasn’talleviated. Realizing this, BPA spent more time explaining how they were addressing EMF tominimize exposure.Despite these efforts, citizens began forming interest groups and putting up websites, such asYale Valley Coalition, Citizens Against BPA, and A Better Way for BPA,http://abetterway4bpa.ning.com/ . These groups used bill boards, meetings with decision-makers and advertising to make a difference. There are complicated trust issues.Some important lessons learned include: • BPA didn’t do enough groundwork before the project got started. They should have been doing this from the launch of the project in 2009 instead of trying to dump a bunch of information on people as the changes were being made. • People need more education on transmission in general—because we will continue to need to build more lines. • People need more specific information. For example, when BPA began thinking about where to put the lines, people would automatically say “no” when we asked to look at their property because they thought this would prevent us from building. But now, with better information they are saying, “Come look, this won’t work for you for ___ reason,” and that helps the designers to create better solutions. • Greater use of internet has changed public engagement for BPA. They started to see shifts in public acceptance of the need for transmission lines as more information was put out to the public and the controversy is dropping off as regular updates are provided.It’s been interesting to note that there hasn’t been much outside influence. As well, most ofmedia coverage has been pretty fair and balanced. Editorials have been pretty positive aboutoutreach and public meetings, but letters to the editor have been negative. Mostly thecontroversy is now taking place in the comments in the letters to the editor.Wind being developed in the region, and the jobs and revenue this renewable energy source can provide, is a big motivation for increasing transmission lines.The Oregon Kitchen TableWendy Willis, Interim Director of the National Policy Consensus InitiativeThe Oregon Citizen Cabinet is the Center piece of the Oregon project at NPCI. This is a projectthat is being designed to find out what Oregonians think about issues that are important to theState. Ultimately, 4000 citizens will be participating, with representation down to the housedistrict level. Participants are being scientifically selected and stratified to ensure that allOregonians are represented, and these participants will be available for weekly consultation.The issues will be framed by the decision-makers about actual decisions that need to be made,and the participants will receive education on the issues. NPCI will be working with an on-linetool, similar to the opt in tool Jim Middaugh is using at Oregon Metro.PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 7
  8. 8. There are three goals: • To increase public knowledge and participation. • To increase civic capacity of Oregon Communities and to give people tools to deal with the issues that come up. • To provide high quality information to Oregon decision makers—elected officials, and other government entities.Can “the Public” really do this well? Do they really want to? Why are Oregonians so mistrustful of government?Many citizens in Oregon (and throughout the United States) believe that government is for bigmoneyed interest and this is the biggest reason why they are distrustful of the government.People who work in government, or agencies that support government work are suspicious ofthe public and think of them as being easily influenced, irrational, fickle, apathetic and generallyuntrustworthy.But are people really cynical and apathetic? Research has found that Oregonians tend to beidealistic and believe in democratic principles. People feel like they are harmed economicallybecause the government is too influenced by big money and not concerned about the public,and this is why they are so frustrated and seemingly apathetic. However, when surveyed, 85%of the public were willing to serve on advisory panels to help elected officials make betterdecisions.Also, the public is not stupid. Given good information (which they usually don’t get) the publicgenerally makes good decisions in the public interest. Research shows that the wisdom ofcrowds generally gets better results than individual “experts” because we are all stupid indifferent ways. Surveys have found that the public is also not as polarized as they are made outto be. The public as a whole would reduce the budget and pretty much along the same lines,regardless of party.So the real question is not whether the public is worthy of participating in decision-making, butrather, how can we engage them more often and more fully.Morning session, June 9--Summary NotesJeanna Hall & Sheri Wantland: “Oureach/Inreach: Is staff on board?”• Outreach/Inreach: Is staff on board? • barriers to internal support--group brainstorm • lack of trust • lack of time/resources • “we’re the experts” • fear of project stalling through public participation • lack of communication between experts (i.e., different vocabulary)PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 8
  9. 9. • internal departmental competition • lack of staff training • small side conversation about difference between public involvement and informing the public • How to overcome barriers?--group brainstorm • involve PI people early and often • understand goals of client • success testimonials • advance planning • make it fun for internal staff • involvement of more of the staff at more points in the process (don’t isolate them) • be the “handler” of the client/project manager • allow the project manager/client to maintain ownership • handout: Clean Water Services created a “Public Involvement Philosophy” in order to better engage the public for successful projects • Additionally, CWS has a “Stakeholder Engagement Process” (STEP) that they use to help their internal staff better understand public involvement • handout: “Project Concept Sheet” that CWS uses with their internal staff as a first step to better visualize what the public involvement process will look like • Communications Plan • anything from a simple spreadsheet to emails • STEP template • main parts: • major analytical steps • key tasks and issues • timeframe • stakeholders and level of involvement • internal staff are considered stakeholdersLunch session, June 9--Summary NotesJim Middaugh: “Metro Hires a Reporter & Other Outreach Innovations”• Public involvement has a negative frame • This is why we need to innovate• Metro does public opinion polling with DHM Research to better understand public motivations• The public generally thinks that the government isn’t getting anything done • this fuels public involvement work• The public is generally uninformed about government• Check out demos.org research organization • they discovered that the idea of government isn’t 100% lost on the public• His office experimented with blogging and “making cool” the work of Metro• Check out Google Analytics• The reporter translated the information of what Metro does for the general public (and elected officials). It was a cool project because it made Metro more relatable.PI Works Summary of Presentations Page 9
  10. 10. He made the reporter an ombudsman• Fostering relationships with other community-based organizations helps Metro and the other organization reach their target demographics• Metro is big on transparency: every survey they do is published online• Opt-in is a group they have for surveys and a way to get public opinion for Metro• Challenge: other languages besides EnglishPI Works Summary of Presentations Page 10