Morning Buzz – IAP2 Foundations of Public Participation

Posted on September 17, 2018


Susan Barkman shares a review for the IAP2 Foundations of Public Participation training.

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What I am watching: Bones

What I am listening to: My iPhone is on shuffle, so whatever it decides.

What I am reading: I just moved so I am in between at the moment…


In graduate school, I found one of my local government passions while taking a public participation class. I love engaging residents and finding solutions to real problems.  I complete the IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation training this year. Since I facilitate neighborhood meetings around development and work with neighbors on potential improvements in their community, this was on my training bucket list for a little while.  Morning Buzz seemed like a great place to share what I learned and encourage more people to think about sending staff or asking for the opportunity to go.

International Association of Public Participation is an international organization dedicated to helping public participation practitioners learn and grow in order to better serve residents.  (Fun Fact: @MountainELGL @allisonScheck is the Colorado Chapter President!) Foundations in Public Participation was designed with the input of successful practitioners who work with diverse populations and divergent circumstances throughout the world. The course is divided into two modules, each focusing on a major phases of public participation, planning and techniques. Upon completion of both modules, you will receive a certificate of completion from IAP2.

Here’s what I loved about the training: 

  • They use real case studies to show the planning process.
  • The cases build, and allow you to practice the skills as you learn.
  • The class had a nice mix of people in different roles, levels and at least one person had a similar role to me.
  • I loved that the class talked about social media and how to use that in public participation.
  • The class had a lot of great stories to share and learn from each other’s successes, failures and mutinies.

Here’s what I learned:

  • This class is a foundations class so with my experience some parts were review. But there was a lot of new information that helped me understand the theory and importance of the planning process and how it gets applied.  
  • The planning portion of the class helped me understand the importance of ensuring that everyone is one the same page and how the process will operate.
  • The techniques portion introduced me to a lot of new techniques, and I enjoyed seeing some of them in action!  Although some techniques aren’t right for what I do, many could be valuable in current political climate.

Here’s what I use:

  • I use the sustainable making model on a  regular basis when I facilitate development meetings.  This is a great tool to help everyone remember who is the decision maker and what feedback they can provide in the process and how it is used.
  • I regularly use some questions meant to help guide your planning process. They help decision makers clarify what their goals and expectations are to get out of a process.
  • Different opportunities call for different techniques, and having a good understanding of the tools available helps my colleagues and I have a better informed discussion.

I am so glad that I took the time and made the investment in order to take this class. I thank my supervisor and department director for giving me the time to go do this training! It will be beneficial for years to come, and it gave me the tools to ask the right questions so that my supervisors and team will be happy with the outcome of our efforts. If you have questions about the class or want more information please reach out!

#localgov enthusiast.

ELGL Board Member.

Speaker. Author. Advisor.

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