Archive for the ‘Core Value Awards’ Category

Being a Stranger in a Strange Land

July 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Core Values_Article 3_Twitter

By: Lauren Wirtis

“You have to recognize that you are a visitor into someone else’s space.” – Jessica Delaney, IAP2 Federation Trainer

Core Value 5: Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.

Core Value 6: Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.

Core Values 5 and 6 remind P2 practitioners that everywhere they go in their profession, they are the outsider. When talking to Jessica Delaney, Mary Hamel, and Cheryl Hilvert, the action they spoke most about in terms of these two Core Values was asking questions. What I learned from them and their stories was how to be a good visitor, who maybe might just get invited back. From what I can tell there are three good rules of thumb: Read more…

Categories: Core Value Awards

How to Hit the P2 Sweet Spot

June 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Core Values 3 4 Banner

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settling a question without debating it.” – Joseph Joubert

Let’s see if we can’t do both. In order to successfully debate a question and settle it we need Core Values 3 and 4, which tell us to include everyone who may be impacted by the decision and to use their input to reach a sustainable decision. To fully explain the role these Core Values play, I’ll be sharing three stories that were told to me when I interviewed Susanna Haas Lyons, Wendy Lowe, and Doug Sarno.

Core Value 3: Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.

Core Value 4: Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.

In explaining how these Core Values operate, Wendy described a venn diagram that is used in the IAP2 training manual illustrating the attributes of potential solutions during a decision-making process. Once circle includes options that are affordable, the second includes ones that are technically sound, and the third options that are publicly acceptable. “What we as P2 practitioners are trying to do is to find the sweet spot.”

The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project

The US Department of Energy was dealing with a volume of waste in Idaho that was hazardous and radioactive. The DOE prepared an environmental impact statement to find the most appropriate, affordable, and technically sound. They engaged the public throughout Idaho and, four years and lots of money later, decided that an incinerator would be the best way to proceed.

However, when they went to get their permit to build the incinerator, they had to check in with the Department of Environmental Quality who asked the DOE which way the wind would blow. That was the moment when the DOE realized they’d more or less forgotten a category of stakeholders: the State of Wyoming. Specifically Jackson, Wyoming where the citizens would be bearing the brunt of the environmental externality. Jackson held a public meeting attended by 500 people that raised $500,000 and killed the incinerator overnight.

This story demonstrates how when you leave out one of the affected parties you cannot know what options are in the publicly acceptable bubble, and can reach solutions that are unable to sustain themselves.

Interestingly, the phrase “including decision makers” wasn’t added to Core Value #3 until 2005 when the Core Values were reviewed. This was one of few substantive changes, but the committee doing the review felt that without this wording the deck would be stacked in favor of the stakeholders. Decision makers are important because they hold the institutional knowledge that populates the options in the bubbles of what is affordable and what is technically sound.


In 2007, California was undergoing health care reform under Governor Schwarzenegger. Susanna, working for America Speaks, helped convene a statewide forum in which over 300,000 people participated, including many undocumented immigrants. The forum looked at two proposals for reforming health care, what they offered, and the major choices that had to make when deciding between the two. This forum enabled legislators (the decision makers in this instance) to see what their constituents supported and make more informed decisions.

The next step in the process is reaching a sustainable decision. Doug said to me, “Making decisions is pretty easy, implementing them and making those decisions work is where the hard part comes in.” A sustainable decision is the difference between getting public buy-in versus public ownership.


A former uranium processing facility needed to be closed and its waste disposed in Ohio. There was a huge waste site with wastes that were more or less hazardous scattered throughout. The local community had felt pretty firmly that they did not want this to remain in their backyard. One member of the community in particular, Lisa, was quite vocal about this. And when a workshop was held that used chips for participants to allocate to on- or off- site disposal, Lisa swept all the chips off the board. “I don’t want any of it to stay here.”

Doug told her that was an option, but now it was time to run the math. The facilitators had programs set up that would calculate the number of expected truck trips, traffic accidents, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. that would result from moving all of the waste from Ohio to Nevada. As Lisa watched the numbers populate she turned to Doug and said, “We can’t do this.”

In the end about 90% of the waste by volume remained in an on-site disposal facility. Most of the more hazardous material was moved off-site. The area is now a 900-acre wildlife preserve and education center. There is also a history museum on site that includes a description of this notable public participation process.

Doug described this as “the most fundamental aha moment I’ve had in my career” watching the public participation process move a participant from a “them” to a “we” mentality. This is the full expression of all three circles of the venn diagram. It hits the sweet spot and reaches a sustainable solution that the community not only accepts, it owns.

cv2 speakers


This article is the first in a series of articles about the Core Values. Keep an eye out for the next article in upcoming newsletters.

Do you have a Core Values story to share? Please tell us about it here!

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Learn more about IAP2’s Core Values

Lauren Wirtis

By: Lauren Wirtis
IAP2 USA Intern


March 23, 2017 Leave a comment

As a P2 practitioner you work hard to ensure that you are developing and delivering great public participation processes. Have you been a part of a P2 project that involved innovation, breaking new ground and/or engaging previously unreached sectors? The time is NOW to give others the opportunity to give you a pat on the back, and apply for the 2017 IAP2 Core Values Awards.

2016 Core Values Award Winners

There are three Project Categories:

  • General Project
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Respect for Diversity, Inclusion and Culture

There are also three National Award Categories:

  • Project of the Year, selected from the four Project Category winners, above,
  • Organization of the Year, and
  • Research Project of the Year.

The three National Award winners will go on to compete for the IAP2 Federation Core Values Awards against winning projects from other worldwide Affiliates.

Applications are being taken now through May 10, so visit the Core Values Awards webpage and download the Applicant’s Kit. The winners will be recognized at the Core Values Awards Gala, to be held in conjunction with the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference, Sept. 6-8, in Denver, Colorado..

Need inspiration? Check out past winners by going to the Core Values Award webpage and scrolling to the bottom – learn from 2014, 2015, 2016 winners and more!

Celebrating Excellence – Apply for the 2016 Core Values Awards!

April 11, 2016 Leave a comment


Yes, it is that time of year again. It is time to APPLY for the IAP2 USA Core Value Awards: Celebrating the Best in Public Participation.

IAP2 USA’s premier Core Values Awards recognize and encourage projects and organizations that are at the forefront of public participation. The Awards were created to promote excellence, quality and innovation in public participation. Embedding the IAP2 Core Values in organizations and projects that demonstrate leading practice is a key focus for the Awards.

We are pleased to be able to announce that we have some new categories for 2016 thanks to the feedback we received from you. So please consider applying for the :

2016 Core Values Awards: Categories

  • Project of the Year
    • General Project
    • Project exemplifying attention to Diversity, Culture and Inclusion – New in 2016
    • Project demonstrating Creativity and Innovation – New in 2016
  • Research in Public Participation
  • Organization Exemplifying Participation

We are always amazed at the caliber of the work that is done both here in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more about the 2015 U.S. winners and check out the international 2015 Showcase. THIS COULD BE YOU IN 2016!

Winners will be announced at the Core Values Awards Gala at the North American Conference in Montreal, Canada, September 29, 2016.

Application Process

So not only do we have some new award categories but, we are also shaking up the process of applying. We have heard from several of you that BEFORE you put in the time and energy to fill in the application you would like to know if your project would be eligible. So if you are wondering about this we encourage you to send us a short LETTER OF INTENT.

However, you are also welcome to skip this process and go directly to the Applicant’s Kit.

Letter of Intent

Please submit a short Letter of Intent (approximately 1 page/450 words) outlining the information below to: IAP2 USA Executive Manager, Amelia Shaw –
Deadline for Letter of Intent submissions is – Thursday, April 28th at 4 pm Pacific

By May 11 you will be notified if you have been invited to submit a full application for consideration. The Full Application will be due by Friday, June 10th. Information on the final application is contained in the Applicant’s Kit.

What is required in the Letter of Intent?

  1. Please describe your public participation project and/or your team/organization*. What were the topics or issues under consideration? Who was involved in planning, implementation and evaluation? What were the primary outcomes and how did you measure success? (250 words max)
  2. The primary goal of the Core Values Awards is to recognize excellence in projects that clearly demonstrate and advance all of the IAP2 (USA) Core Values in public participation. For this letter, please select two of the Core Values and describe how your project/team/organization exemplified these values. (200 words max) (Please keep in mind, if invited to submit a full application you will need to address all of the Core Values).

* Project and team/organization for project based awards and team/organization for the organizational award.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:

Read more!

WEBINAR REWIND: January – Core Values Award Winners Part 1: Organizations of the Year

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment

webinars2As that famous P2 consultant, Amy Grant, once sang, “It takes a little time to turn the Titanic around”. The co-presenters in our January Learning Webinar both had to turn some pretty heavy ships around in promoting a culture of engagement where there had been none before.

2015 IAP2 USA and IAP2 Canada Core Values Award Winners

The St. Vrain “team”, receiving their 2015 Core Values Award in Portland. Superintendent Dr. Don Haddad is at far left; Laura McDonald is third from right; Damon Brown is at far right.

The City of Victoria and the St. Vrain Valley School District (Colorado) were named Organizations of the Year for Canada and the USA, respectively, at the 2015 IAP2 Core Values Awards last fall in Portland. Both have had to overcome internal trepidation and external cynicism to achieve that status, and the results can be seen in ways ranging from increased involvement in engagement processes to support for public-spending initiatives.

St. Vrain Valley Schools also had to let go of “control” over issues in order to improve its public engagement. Laura McDonald, a mother of two girls in the system, got involved when she realized that a $10 – 14 million budget shortfall declared before her children started school had not been addressed by the time they were of school age. She heard all the doom-and-gloom talk about the shortfall, but more ominously, also about the skepticism.

According to the District’s Communications Director, Damon Brown, conflict-driven media, polarization and a history of “announce and defend” decision-making led to a wide mistrust of decision-makers; that led to a mill levy override, which would have provided for teachers’ salaries and instructional programs, being voted down in 2005. In 2008, 85 teachers were laid off and the District had no supplementary funding.

Shortly after that, a new superintendent came on the scene. Dr. Don Haddad seized on the concepts of P2 – particularly the Core Values – and launched an aggressive campaign of his own to engage with the people. In a relatively short time, he and other district staff members built trust relationships. “Leadership St. Vrain”* was launched, bringing parents and members of the community not directly involved with the school system into the mix, educating them on the “Know-How” (the business of education) and “Know-Who” (the key decision-makers) of the district.

In the process, the District, its administrators and teachers – many of whom are seasoned educators with a measure of bias against letting non-experts help make decisions – released ownership of the problems they faced.

The result: A $189-million bond measure and a $16.5-million mill levy override both passed in 2008. Another $14.8-million mill levy override passed in 2012.

The increased P2 capacity is credited with other results, especially academic achievement. Damon Brown says there has been an upward trend in standardized test scores, increases in the graduation rate and the number of scholarships awarded; and a decline in the dropout rate.

Not incidentally, St. Vrain Valley Schools was also named 2015 Organization of the Year by the entire IAP2 Federation.

Turning that big ship around, Damon Brown points out, takes more than legislation: It takes a change in thinking and habits. Both St. Vrain Valley Schools and the City of Victoria have not only accomplished that on the inside of their organizations, but the results are palpable on the outside.


Katie Hamilton and Julie Potter, 2015 Core Values Awards

Katie Hamilton, City of Victoria Director of Citizen Engagement, arrived at City Hall 10 years ago to find there was no policy or template governing public participation and that any “engagement” was an after-thought. Public input did not guide the projects, and citizens were often surprised when a major project was announced. There were customer-service barriers and, despite Victoria’s growing reputation as a high-tech center, the website was out-dated. What’s more, discussions tended to focus on the cost of something, rather than its value.

That led to the public becoming skeptical to the point of hostility when decisions were made or projects were announced. But over the past decade, city staff have grown to “embrace the clunky” – that is, step into the difficult discussions, become the facilitator for these conversations and let go of “control” over issues. City departments are also working closer together as a unit, rather than in silos, independent of one another. “Great ideas sessions” are regular occurrences.

Some of the tactics include “going to where the people are”. Information and input facilities regarding parks issues were set up in the parks themselves; a pop-up open house was set up on a bicycle trailer, going to fairs, markets, furniture stores, coffee shops, new mothers’ clubs, you name it. In City budget mail-outs at tax time, infographics have replaced pie charts to indicate how one’s money is spent.

Can you measure a shift in culture? Here’s one indicator: Attendance at City budget meetings has gone from a group of 30 highly-interested people to over 1,500, with amenities like food provided by local growers creating a lighter atmosphere.


* Winner, IAP2 USA Research Project of the Year, 2014 Core Values Awards


October 8, 2015 Leave a comment
2015 Core Values Award Winners

2015 IAP2 USA and IAP2 Canada Core Values Award Winners

Two projects which broke new ground in public participation carried off the honors at the 2015 IAP2 USA Core Values Awards in September. These projects are prime examples of what P2 can do – and, we hope, can inspire you to look not just for solutions to your own P2 challenges, but to strive for award-winning solutions in the process.


metro-4Oregon Metro – the only directly-elected regional government in the USA – won Project of the Year for the Powell – Division Transit and Development Project. This partnership with the cities of Portland and Gresham, Oregon’s largest and fourth-largest cities, respectively, needed a wide range of consultation methods in order to reach out to a widely diverse community. This 15-mile corridor covers a number of neighborhoods with a high proportion of immigrants.

Dana Lucero of Oregon Metro (at podium) accepted the award with Gresham City Councillor Lori Stegmann

Dana Lucero of Oregon Metro (at podium) accepted the award with Gresham City Councillor Lori Stegmann

Metro understood that there was a considerable level of mistrust and skepticism that had to be overcome, and the consultations involved online, face-to-face and single-question mini-surveys, among other things, to reach out to the community.

At various times, the consultations were done in Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese; even Bhutanese and Tongan, to ensure as much of the community was involved as possible. The result has been broad support for the development project itself, and many of the approaches have been included in Metro’s Public Engagement Guide.

Dr. Don Haddad, Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Public School District, received the award from USA judge Joel Mills

Dr. Don Haddad, Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Public School District, received the award from USA judge Joel Mills

The St. Vrain Valley Public School District, based in Longmont, Colorado, received the award for Organization of the Year for Embracing Public Participation. In this, parents and others not generally considered to be “experts” or “professionals” in education are included in the School District’s planning and development process. This had to overcome internal and external resistance: from “legacy” staff, who were averse to including these non-professionals in the process, and from citizens who, as in the Portland area, were skeptical and distrustful of the authority itself.

The St. Vrain Schools team: (L-R) Dr. Don Haddad, Kerri McDermid (online communications & web administrator), Matthew Wiggins (St. Vrain Schools Communications Director), Laura McDonald (parent and co-founder of Leadership St. Vrain), John Poynton (fmr St. Vrain Schools Dir. of Communications), Damon Brown (Exec. Dir. of Communications)

The St. Vrain Schools team: (L-R) Dr. Don Haddad, Kerri McDermid (online communications & web administrator), Matthew Wiggins (St. Vrain Schools Communications Director), Laura McDonald (parent and co-founder of Leadership St. Vrain), John Poynton (fmr St. Vrain Schools Dir. of Communications), Damon Brown (Exec. Dir. of Communications)

This was the second win in as many years for St. Vrain Valley Schools: the district won the 2014 Research Project of the Year for “Leadership St. Vrain”, which was the precursor to this year’s award-winning effort.

Both St. Vrain Valley Schools and Oregon Metro will now compete against award winners from other IAP2 Affiliates. Those awards will be announced at the IAP2 Australasian Conference, happening this month in Perth, Western Australia.

Acoustic guitar genius Terry Robb provided entertainment at the Core Values Awards Gala

Acoustic guitar genius Terry Robb provided entertainment at the Core Values Awards Gala

IAP2 Canada presented awards in five categories:

Project of the Year – Pikangikum First Nation (Reservation) in Northwestern Ontario and Beringia Community Planning, for “Working It Out Together”, which addressed some serious mental-health issues with a community-based approach.

Organization of the Year – The City of Victoria, BC, for “Foundations for Success”, an effort to ensure citizens are included in all of the city’s processes. Honorable Mention went to the City of Vancouver, BC, for the “Engaged City Task Force”.

IAP2 Canada also presented Project Awards, from which the overall Project of the Year was selected:

Advancing the Practice through Creativity, Contribution and Innovation in the Field – City of Calgary, Alberta, for “Action Plan 2015-2018”. Honorable Mention went to the City of Edmonton, for “What the B*ke!”

P2 for the Greater Good – to the Hawkwood Community Association in Calgary and Forum Stakeholder Relations, for “Our Hawkwood”, a locally-developed neighborhood plan.

Indigenous Engagement – to the Pikangikum First Nation.

You can learn more about the USA award winners here, and the Canadian award winners here. We encourage you to study the entries and also the criteria for Research Project of the Year, so that you can model your upcoming P2 processes with the 2016 Core Values Awards in mind. You could find yourself on the stage, hearing the applause and receiving the hardware, at next year’s Conference in Montréal!

Engage Citizens, Break New Ground, and Succeed – the theme of IAP2 USA Awards

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

(Portland, OR, Sept. 10, 2015) – Two very public U.S. organizations have been honored for their dedication to include “ordinary” people throughout their processes. The International Association for Public Participation, USA (IAP2 USA) presented its annual Core Values Awards to Oregon Metro and the St. Vrain Valley School District of Longmont, Colorado at the IAP2 North American Conference in Portland, Oregon.


The IAP2 Core Values Awards celebrate work that exemplifies the key principles of Public Participation (P2). These principles (the Core Values) include the belief that people affected by a process have a right to be consulted on the process and to know how their input influenced that process.


The “Powell-Division Transportation and Development Project”, a multi-level partnership led by Oregon Metro, was named Project of the Year, for recognizing the importance of engaging the citizens in this highly culturally-diverse area. The transportation project itself aims to solve congestion issues along a major route linking Portland and Gresham, the largest and fourth-largest cities in Oregon, respectively.

Oregon Metro faced public skepticism and a sense among the people of being disconnected, and P2 consultants used a variety of methods to overcome that. Work groups focused on specific concerns, there were face-to-face public meetings, online tools, and multilingual single-question surveys at bus stops; languages used included Spanish, Tongan, Bhutanese, Vietnamese and Russian.

“Because of these challenges, this vital project could have died on the vine or caused huge distrust and public backlash if it had been handled with a top-down approach,” says David Hovde, President of IAP2 USA. “Instead, the planners and practitioners followed the IAP2 Core Values to ensure that people were involved, had an impact and ultimately benefited from the service.”




The St. Vrain Valley Public School District of Longmont, Colorado, was named Organization of the Year for its initiative to have “non-professionals” in the education field – parents and students – join with teachers and administrators to cast the vision and set the course for the school district.

“Public participation is so critically important,” says Dr. Don Haddad, District Superintendent. “In St. Vrain, it’s one of the most important things we do and I would attribute it to one of the reasons we have enjoyed so much success.”

Oregon Metro and St. Vrain Valley Schools will now compete against Projects and Organizations of the Year from other IAP2 Affiliates around the world for top honors from the worldwide IAP2 Federation. Those awards will be announced at the IAP2 Australasian Conference in Perth, Australia, in October.


Video presentations on these winning projects can be seen online.

Also honored at the IAP2 Core Values Awards were the Canadian winners:

Project of the Year and the Award for Indigenous Engagement – to Beringia Community Planning and the Pigangikum Health Authority for a project to deal with mental health issues on the Pigangikum First Nation in northwestern Ontario.

Organization of the Year – to the City of Victoria, British Columbia, for “Foundations for Success”, an initiative to enhance the culture of public participation in civic affairs.

Award for P2 for the Greater Good – to “Our Hawkwood” and Forum Stakeholder Relations for a community-developed plan to improve the quality of life in the Hawkwood neighborhood of Calgary, Alberta.

Award for Enhancing the Practice (of P2) through Creativity, Contribution and Innovation in the Field – to the City of Calgary, Alberta, for “Action Plan 2015-2018”, a project to increase citizen involvement in civic business.

For more information, visit the IAP2 USA Core Values Awards page.