"Put people first, not just projects and programs, but people”

Samantha Stork, Strategic Advisor to Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods wrote a great update in Governing about Seattle’s progress in Living Cities’ City Accelerator program.

Here is a summary of some of the lessons that Samantha details:

Define the intent of your engagement project

Begin by understanding what the intent of the project is. Define these goals externally, so you can manage expectations from the public. In the IdeaMapr Approach we “Focus” to set clear expectations about which aspects of the project are already decided and which aspects we are inviting feedback on.

Consider the impact on the community

One very important insight that Samantha’s team uncovered was that they were holding too many public meetings and were exhausting their community with too many request to participate. Samantha’s strategy is now to look at “perceived impacted areas and timelines to help them figure out how to reduce meetings or bundle projects”. Her team is also plotting out projects on a map and calendar to help reduce the burden on community members who want to participate.

Seattle’s people-focused approach can be expanded to include which methods of participation people would like to use. Using online tools, like IdeaMapr could reduce the need for people to attend multiple in-person meetings. Also people-focused can be about helping to create understanding by reducing the complexity of the engagement process.

Read the original article here