Deepening Public Participation: Summary and Resources

Whether dealing with an immediate challenge or building long-term infrastructure, participation skills are a valuable asset for anyone’s proverbial toolkit.

Thanks for sticking with us throughout our series on deepening public participation! Whether dealing with an immediate challenge or building long-term infrastructure, participation skills are a valuable asset for anyone’s proverbial toolkit. In case you missed a post, we identified ten key talents (each with a set of specific skills) for public participation:

We also discussed the importance of logistical and project management skills, and identified several free, online, commonly-used platforms and tools that can help with such tasks.

Although not everyone involved with a participation project needs all of these skills, participation leaders should be aware of these skills exist and know who in the community possesses them. Ultimately, training people in these skills is not only helpful for organizing a project or sustaining a process, but also for longer-term efforts to build a sustainable participation infrastructure.

Resources for Participation Leaders

Because public participation is such a diffuse field, many people who are trying to engage citizens more productively do not know that many tools, resources and case studies exist. They may not know that there are participation consultants or experienced practitioners nearby.

As a result, people continually ‘reinvent the wheel’ in public participation, and often make mistakes that others have already made. The first step in planning for participation, therefore, is to take a good look around at the resources and experiences available.

Many organizations, several of which are listed below, provide trainings, how-to materials, or other resources for building participation skills. These resources range from open source tools and information to full consulting and project management services.

Organizations that Provide Resources for Building Participation Skills:

  • Center for Deliberative Democracy (Stanford University)
  • Center for Democratic Deliberation (Pennsylvania State University)
  • Center for Public Deliberation (Colorado State University)
  • Deliberative Democracy Consortium
  • e-democracy.org
  • EngagingCities
  • Everyday Democracy
  • GovLab (New York University)
  • Harwood Institute for Public Innovation
  • Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (Kansas State University)
  • Institute for Local Government
  • Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (University of Illinois-Chicago)
  • International Association for Public Participation
  • International City/County Management Association
  • International Institute for Sustained Dialogue
  • Jefferson Center
  • Keystone Center
  • National Charrette Institute
  • National Civic League
  • National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation
  • National Institute for Civil Discourse (University of Arizona)
  • National Issues Forum Network
  • National League of Cities
  • Orton Family Foundation
  • Participatory Budgeting Project
  • Participatory Governance Initiative (Arizona State University)
  • Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement
  • Policy Consensus Initiative
  • Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (Syracuse University)
  • Right Question Project
  • University Network for Collaborative Governance
  • Viewpoint Learning

Finally, an examination of participation capacities would not be complete without at least a brief mention of logistical and project management skills, which are central to organizing public participation. Fortunately, the advent and acceleration of technology has made many of these tasks much simpler. Today, there exists a wide variety of free, online, commonly used platforms and tools for basic project management tasks, some of which are listed below.

Platforms and Tools for Basic Project Management Tasks:

Scheduling meetings and calls – Doodle, MeetingWizard

Managing social media accounts – Hootsuite, Buffer, TweetDeck

Sending newsletters – MailChimp, Constant Contact

Portions of this post were excerpted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy by Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger. Copyright ©2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.



Submitted by: Paul on Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Thanks, this is very helpful.

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