The Engagement Factor

Impact Partners, LLC subscribes to the notion that the social environment in which people live, as well as their lifestyles and behaviors, can influence their Quality-of-Life. Communities can achieve long-term Quality-of-Life improvements and prosperous economies for all when ordinary citizens people become involved and work together to effect change, not just people who already have influence in the direction of a community.

Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental, cultural, health and behavioral changes that will improve the Quality-of-Life of the community. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices.

Successful Community Engagement Practices

THE CHARRETTE AS AN AGENT FOR CHANGE / Lennertz, Bill -- Portland, OR: National Charrette Institute (NCI), 2003, 8 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: Charrettes offer much more than just a quick fix. The result of the modern-day Charrette is lasting, transformative change. After a Charrette, people have been heard to say: "I have been a transportation engineer for 20 years and until today I never knew why the fire department needs 20 feet of street clearance," or "Now I understand why alleys are so important," or "This is the most creative experience I have had since college," and "I may not agree with the entire proposal, but my concerns were listened to and considered; I like how I was treated." Achieving such results requires a carefully planned and orchestrated process that starts well before the actual Charrette and continues long after it. 

THE CHARRETTE HANDBOOK: The essential guide for accelerated, collaborative community planning / Lennertz, Bill; Lutzenhizer, Aarin -- Chicago, IL: American Planning Association (APA), 2006, 188 p. (Book) Available for purchase via the World Wide Web:  This book is a step-by-step guide to a successful charrette. Based on the NCI Charrette Planner certification training curriculum developed by the National Charrette Institute, the book offers practical tips on everything from pre-charrette preparations to project implementation. With handy charts and easy-to-follow examples, the handbook is an invaluable how-to manual for anyone organizing a charrette. 

CHARRETTES 101: Dynamic planning for community change / Washington, DC: Fannie Mae Foundation, 2003, 12 p. BuildingBlocks – Vol. 4, no.1 (Summer 2003) Available full text via the World Wide Web: This special issue of the Fannie Mae Foundation’s publication, BuildingBlocks, focuses on more inclusive, dynamic approaches to planning: charrettes. This issue has articles titled: “The Mark of a Good Charrette,” “The Stakeholder Analysis,” “Charrettes Are Increasing Popular” and “Planning and Financing a Charrette.” It concludes with contact information for organizations specializing in charrettes and community planning. 

THE NEIGHBORHOOD CHARRETTE HANDBOOK: visioning & visualizing your neighborhood's future / Segedy, Dr. James A.; Johnson, Bradley E. -- Louisville, KY: University of Louisville, 16 p. Available via the World Wide Web: The vitality of our neighborhoods depends upon an informed and involved citizenry.  Although all citizens are consumers of community planning and design, they are generally uninformed about the choices available to them or how to go about getting more for their effort. A charrette workshop provides local officials and concerned citizens with a set of resources and a process that will help educate and involve the community in the decision-making process. 

CHARRETTES: A community planning tool that improves public participation / National Association of Realtors (NAR) -- Washington, DC: NAR, 49 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: Achieving true citizen participation in community planning is always a challenge. Public hearings often are dominated by citizens who are opposed to a proposal. To address the need for a better participation process, communities and developers are turning to the charrette, a multi-day intensive planning workshop that includes all stakeholders in a community and results in a plan that can be implemented and built. This PowerPoint presentation, which includes both slides and a script, describes charrettes and explains how they can be used to improve the planning process in your community.   

BUILDING PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING: A toolbox for California officials / Institute for Local Government (ILG) -- Sacramento, CA: League for California Cities, July 2007, 75 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: State law imposes a variety of obligations on all communities to provide housing to meet the needs of people of all income levels. Moreover, many local officials are personally committed to expanding housing opportunities in their communities for a variety of reasons. Common reasons to support affordable housing include strengthening the local economy, providing housing choices for local workers, and meeting basic needs for shelter for disadvantaged or vulnerable populations. The combination of community concerns and the need for more affordable housing can put local officials in a sticky situation. This toolbox is designed to help with a six-step process: 1. surveying the landscape: conducting an initial assessment; 2. building to code: law, procedures and public hearings; 3. nuts and bolts: addressing legitimate community concerns; 4. blueprint for success: designing the public participation process; 5. choosing the right tools: applying methods of community engaging; 6. laying a foundation for the future: implementation, oversight and the framework for planning  
California Department of Housing and Community Development 4 Housing Policy Development Division (August 2007)  

ADDRESSING COMMUNITY OPPOSITION TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT: A fair housing toolkit / Pratt, Sara; Allen, Michael -- Glenside, PA: The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, 2004, 80 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: Increasingly, housing developers face opposition from communities to affordable housing. Often based on myths, stereotypes, and outright discrimination, the practices are largely unlawful. This toolkit is intended to give developers a working knowledge of fair housing in a form they can use. It gives common sense, hands-on tools to deal with public hearings, building community support, using the media, working with officials, and moving to legal action. It includes an extensive list of Web sites, articles, and books on issues relating to affordable housing development and fair housing, as well as legal resources.  

FROM NIMBY TO YIMBY: Strategies and techniques to garner community support for affordable housing development / California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD), Housing Policy Development Division (HPD) -- Sacramento, CA: HCD,  December 2006, 27 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: This presentation, which has 27 slides, provides suggestions for moving beyond NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) to YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard). It encourages communities to build support emphasizing good design and project management. It debunks commonly held myths about affordable housing and high density. Communities are encouraged to provide wide outreach, engage stakeholders and activists and get community leaders involved; to garner media and political support early; to be proactive, anticipate pitfalls and work to anticipate concerns and address them as part of project development; to demonstrate the benefit of the project for the community; to ensure public input and decision-making is transparent; and to show pictures and conduct tours of high quality housing. 

GETTING PAST NIMBY: Building consensus for affordable housing / Field, Charles -- Washington, DC: Fannie Mae Foundation, 2007, 3 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: Taking the necessary steps to make housing affordable attracts the attention of a wide range of parties that often have competing interests. Some of the more visible groups are members of the housing industry, who traditionally work together to produce housing; local citizens' groups, whose interests reflect diverse concerns about neighborhood quality, neighborhood stability, the environment, the property tax burden, traffic congestion, and crime; religious, civil rights, labor, or local advocacy groups, who promote the housing interests of low- and moderate-income families; employers, who need accessible, affordable housing for their workforce; elected officials and administrators, who need to deal with the politics of affordable housing; and nonresidents, who would move into the community if housing were available at a price they could afford. Bringing together these diverse-and often hostile-interests has become a major challenge in securing approvals for affordable housing. If progress toward affordable housing is to be made, proponents must recast the way they operate in this environment. New financing plans or recommendations for regulatory relief are not enough-attention must also focus on the processes by which groups address divergent interests and come to agreement. "Principled negotiation," a form of joint problem solving, when coupled with third-party intervention, offers a promising and effective means of dealing with this hostile environment.   

MANAGING LOCAL OPPOSITION TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING: A new approach to NIMBY / Iglesias, Tim -- Washington, DC: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, 2002, 45 p. (Journal article) Journal of Affordable Housing – Vol. 12, No. 1 (Fall 2002) p. 78-122 Available full text via the World Wide Web: This article is based upon the experience of two successful multiyear regional projects to confront local opposition in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to assisting more than twenty development proposals receive their local government approvals, the projects yielded a novel approach to local opposition that combines proactive planning by the developer with legal strategies, community organizing, and public relations strategies. The approach described in this article is founded on two insights. First, given its deep roots, local opposition will never be ‘‘overcome,’’ so a more reasonable framing from the developer’s perspective is ‘‘managing’’ local opposition. ‘‘Managing local opposition’’ is defined as using the planning process described in this article to obtain funding and land use approvals. In seeking its approvals, a developer should strive to: (1) respect the legitimate concerns of the local community and neighborhood; (2) respect the rights of current and prospective residents whom it desires to serve; and (3) advance the prospects of future affordable housing proposals in that community.    

BLUEPRINT 2001: community participation strategies / Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – Sacramento, CA: League of California Cities, 2001, 21 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: To build support for local housing solutions, community participation needs to be at the very core of the Housing Element process. It is “where the rubber meets the road.” In fact, a participatory program of education, input, dialog, and consensus-building can be one of the key strategies for responding to community housing needs. By engaging community residents in a frank discussion of local housing issues and needs, the Housing Element can:  develop a greater appreciation among local residents for the depth and breadth of housing needs in their community; counter stereotypes about “affordable housing” and its potential benefits and impacts; introduce concepts such as “workforce housing” and the interrelationship between jobs and housing; explore ways that affordable housing is part of the solution to traffic, quality of life, and open space issues; focus attention on design and management issues (rather than density and income) that often make the most difference in the long-term viability and acceptability of affordable housing; establish an overall framework for land use and development decisions that reflects community values and priorities, thereby facilitating subsequent project-specific review and approval; build a foundation for other community planning initiatives related to smart growth and sustainability; and provide a positive experience in constructive community engagement with benefits that far outlast the Housing Element process itself. 

HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN LAND USE DECISIONS / Sacramento, CA: League for California Cities, 2007, 1 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: There are several things that you can do if you have concerns about land use issues in your neighborhood and want to participate in the planning process for a project. You can start by learning as much as you can about the project, and state and local regulations that apply to the project. Once you have reliable information, develop a written list of concerns about the proposed project. This list will help you talk to others about the project; a list will help you keep focused on the important issues.  Another important list to develop is a written list of possible solutions or ways to address the concerns you have identified.  Thoughtful suggestions of how to improve the project demonstrate that you are trying to play a constructive role in the planning process for the community.  

BREAKING THE DEVELOPMENT LOGJAM / Porter, Douglas R. -- Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute (ULI), 2006, 120 p. (Book) Available for purchase via the World Wide Web: cfm&Productid=1492 This book explains in plain terms how developers and planners can involve the community in the development process using the latest community engagement tools. It describes why, in these days of more complex projects and development approval procedures, it pays to win citizen support rather than fight opposition. It details how collaborative community engagement processes are organized and managed and includes detailed check lists and seven case studies.  Bibliographical references are included.  

BUILDING DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE: Tools and structures for engaging citizens / Washington, DC: National League of Cities, 2005, 92 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: This resource is the second publication of the Strengthening Democratic Local Governance project, which seeks to ensure leadership by local elected officials on issues of democratic governance and civic engagement. The ultimate purpose of the publication is to provide guidance to the idea and practice of democratic governance, and to develop a new framework for understanding what roles citizens, local officials, and public employees play. Local elected officials, city staff or anyone working with governance will find this information useful. Neighborhood groups and community organizations will be in interested in seeing the nexus between public decision making at the grassroots and authoritative levels. People who are thinking about and researching the topic of democratic governance will find the ideas and examples from real communities helpful.  

GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL LOCAL GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION IN AMERICA’S REGIONS / Parr, John; Riehm, Joan; McFarland, Christiana -- Washington, DC: National League of Cities, October 2006, 68 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: The goal of this guide is to help local elected officials better understand new opportunities for improving service delivery and quality of life in their communities through local government cooperation across city, county, and state lines. This guide offers a range of collaboration options from communities across the country, plus lessons learned from those who are using these options today to improve services, lower costs, and improve their economic competitiveness. The guide also provides a step-by-step approach to help local elected officials and regional partners meet current and future challenges and ensure that the public is engaged in the process.   

THE MODEL PLAN FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION / Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) -- Washington, DC: EPA, February 2000, 20 p. (EPA-300-K-96-003) Available full text via the World Wide Web: The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) considers public participation crucial in ensuring that decisions affecting human health and the environment embrace environmental justice. To facilitate such public participation, the NEJAC requested that its Public Participation and Accountability Subcommittee develop recommendations for methods by which EPA can institutionalize public participation in its environmental programs. In 1994, the Public Participation and Accountability Subcommittee developed the Model Plan for Public Meetings. The NEJAC adopted the model plan as a living document to be reviewed annually and revised as needed.  

THE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION HANDBOOK: Making better decisions through citizen involvement / Creighton, James L. -- San Francisco, CA: Jossey E. Bass, March 2005, 288 p. (Book) Available for purchase via the World Wide Web: Internationally renowned facilitator and public participation consultant James L. Creighton offers a practical guide to designing and facilitating public participation of the public in environmental and public policy decision making. Written for government officials, public and community leaders, and professional facilitators, The Public Participation Handbook is a toolkit for designing a participation process, selecting techniques to encourage participation, facilitating successful public meetings, working with the media, and evaluating the program. The book is also filled with practical advice, checklists, worksheets, and illustrative examples. 

REALITY CHECK: A guide for ULI District Councils / Urban Land Institute (ULI) -- Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute, January 2007, 51 p. Available for purchase via the World Wide Web: lityCheckGuide/Reality_Check_Guide1.htm Available full text via the World Wide Web: lityCheckGuide/Reality_Check_Guide_medium.pdf Reality Check, a one-day, participatory, regional visioning exercise is a tool available to District Councils to engage leaders in a regional dialogue on growth issues. Although each visioning exercise and process is different, working toward the overall education and awareness-raising goals of Reality Check has the power to create a regional dialogue that results in consensus on where and how the region will grow over the next 25 or 30 years. This document is intended to serve as a reference for ULI District Councils and other interested parties as they plan Reality Check exercises or comparable exercises in their regions. Reality Check is intended to provide leaders with a region-specific roadmap to guide future growth. Such a roadmap should support regional economic vitality, livability, and environmental sustainability and increase consensus, cooperation, and coordination on local land use decisions.  California Department of Housing and Community Development 12 Housing Policy Development Division (August 2007)  

STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT & PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AT THE U.S. EPA: Lessons learned, barriers, & innovative approaches / Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Environmental Policy Innovation (OEPI) -- Washington, DC: EPA, January 2001, 36 p. (EPA-100-R-00-040) Available full text via the World Wide Web: With this report, the Office of Environmental Policy Innovation (OEPI) has taken a fresh look at Agency efforts to involve the public by reviewing formal evaluations and informal summaries from across the Agency that identify, describe, and/or evaluate Agency stakeholder involvement and public participation activities. Based upon its review, OEPI identified key crosscutting lessons learned; pinpointed unique barriers and ways to overcome them; and highlighted innovative approaches to stakeholder involvement and public participation.  

STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE IN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: How public agencies can learn from the community, use what they learn, and demonstrate that public knowledge matters / Bethesda, MD: The Harwood Institute, 2005, 20 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: This document focuses on the “how to’s” of civic engagement such as deciding what issues to talk about and who to listen to; how to design and lead effective conversations; figuring out what you heard in engagement conversations; and how to follow up after you’ve engaged the public. This tool, however, won’t answer those questions. Instead, it provides the four key standards every agency must meet to achieve excellence in civic engagement; benchmarks for how you will know that you’re meeting these standards; and pay-offs for why it is worth achieving them.  

CONSENSUS BUILDING TOOLS FOR NEW CHALLENGES AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVELS / Jones, Robert -- Portland, OR: National Policy Consensus Center, 2007, 3 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: The good news is that there is a growing interest and a promising track record at the local, regional and state level, often guided by statewide offices of dispute resolution, in using collaborative approaches to public problem solving. These processes bring stakeholders and citizens together to develop consensus for needed actions on public problems; increase inter-agency and intergovernmental cooperation; and improve public and private sector coordination, collaboration and partnerships.  These efforts utilize an array of consensus building tools to solve critical public problems including mediation, facilitated consensus building and public participation and other forms of collaborative problem solving. They have been deployed to deal with a variety of issues such as affordable housing, water management, emergency medical services provision, facility siting, community visions, budget priorities, environmental and land use issues, and public employment claims and grievances.  

COLLABORATIVE REGIONAL INITIATIVES: Civic entrepreneurs work to fill the governance gap / Innes, Judith E.; Rongerude, Jane -- Berkeley, CA: University of California at Berkeley, Institute of Urban and Regional Development, November 2005, 58 p. (Working paper no. 2006-04) Available full text via the World Wide Web:  Collaborative Regional Initiatives (CRIs) are partnerships of government, business, and community representatives working together to promote the economic vitality and improve the quality of life in their regions. From 1997 to 2004, the James Irvine Foundation invested more than $20 million in 17 CRIs in California to see if such regional collaboration could help create long-lasting solutions. This report, resulting from three years of research and analysis by the Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IURD), finds that CRIs can be important vehicles for engaging a range of stakeholders toward addressing economic, environmental, and social issues at the regional level.  

INVOLVING THE COMMUNITY IN NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING / Myerson, Deborah -- Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute (ULI), 2005, 24 p. (Book) Available for purchase via the World Wide Web: cfm&Productid=1503 When cities and neighborhoods can collaborate on planning, everybody wins. Experts at the ULI/Charles H. Shaw Forum on Urban Community Issues identified seven key principles for involving the community in neighborhood planning including community building, leadership, implementation plans, tools and resources, financial realities, communication, and involving the “right” people. Case studies of successful efforts include Chicago, San Jose, and Austin.  

THE COMMUNITY VISIONING AND STRATEGIC PLANNING HANDBOOK / Denver, CO: National Civic League, 2000, 62 p. Available for purchase via the World Wide Web:  The handbook lays out the framework of the successful community planning processes used by the National Civic League and others across the country. These processes have been customized and effectively used in numerous places around the country to address a wide range of issues. This third printing includes a condensed version of the second edition of the Civic Index. 

PRINCIPLES FOR INNER-CITY NEIGHBORHOOD DESIGN: Part II / Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) -- San Francisco, CA: CNU, February 2001, 21 p. Available full text via the World Wide Web: Today’s housing policy includes vouchers that provide low-income families with the opportunity to find housing in higher income communities and home-ownership programs that encourage families with resources to buy into formerly low income districts. The real estate market is used to help shape each project. Planning now involves community participation. Design solutions respond more to their immediate environment. Buildings allow for more diverse tenants and provide more room for individual and family development. Of course, it is possible for any enterprise to go wrong. A danger for HOPEVI would be to let the design innovation devolve into a new set of stereotypes, comparable to some of the old public housing stereotypes. Projects can be poorly administered; buildings can be allowed to deteriorate; public spaces can be neglected. However, the HOPE VI program allows for the evolution of real communities, which can act to preserve their physical and social environment over the long term. For details of neighborhood plans, see city2.pdf  

Source: California Department of Housing and Community Development 2 Housing Policy Development Division (August 2007)