Culture of Engagement
□ Develop a formal, written public engagement strategy/policy that is followed and made accessible to the community.
□ Ensure the elected board has formally adopted a public engagement policy/strategy, with council and senior staff developing a shared understanding about which issues are well suited to public engagement.
□ Public engagement made an assigned responsibility in the job description of one or more staff members.
□ Every 24 months staff members and/or elected officials should receive training in how to identify and apply the most effective public engagement strategies to the range of issues that confront your agency/community.
□ Each year, your agency completes a significant community engagement process, with the outcome informing policy deliberation and improved decisions in the future.
□ Communication strategies include both traditional and electronic forms, such as newsletters, library postings, e-notification systems and other web-based communication, social media, and mobile apps. These are offered in “plain language” as well as any translations appropriate to the community.
□ Intentional efforts – such as topic specific web pages, data visualizations, databases, workshops – have been taken to enhance transparency and increase opportunities to review and understand policy decisions, financial data, compensation, and other matters of high public interest (e.g. budgets, land use, tax measures, environmental).
□ Efforts are made to develop and nurture a database or contact list of interested residents and groups to build relationships with the community beyond one-off involvement.
□ Regular interactions with both well-established and community-based organizations are an institutionalized practice. For instance, regular meetings are held to share information and improve dialog with local groups, such as neighborhood associations, community organizations, clergy/congregations, businesses, schools, ethnic media, etc.
□ Active citizen commissions and/or standing advisory bodies are supported with staff, resources, and training. There should also be intentional recruitment efforts to make these bodies as representative and understanding of the community as possible.
□ Task forces and/or ad hoc committees are utilized as appropriate to address community issues, while being supported with staff, resources, and training.
□ For more complex and/or controversial issues, special resident engagement efforts are sometimes used so that your agency serves as a partner with the community. This often entails working with other local agencies, such as schools or health departments, to solve problems collaboratively. Efforts are made to ensure that those involved represent the diversity within the community and that the opportunities for engagement are made to feel inclusive of all.
□ In such partnership engagements, residents are actively involved in setting and defining agendas, along with planning other aspects of the engagement, such as outreach to underrepresented voices, involving issue experts, shaping a process that enhances community trust, and determining how decisions will ultimately be made.
□ Deliberative steps are taken to ensure that public engagement processes include people and viewpoints reflective of the population and interests within the community, including partnerships with ethnic media, community organizations, and advocacy groups. Furthermore, steps are taken to eliminate barriers to civic participation, such as alternative meeting locations/times, accommodations for disabilities, translation for non-English speaking populations, practices to ensure participants enjoy a welcoming and comfortable experience, etc.
□ Your agency is clear about the conditions under which the use of impartial facilitators is appropriate to help resolve conflicts and enable diverse views to be expressed, utilizing facilitators as needed.
Building Community Relationships and Partnerships
□ Community training and education are also a component of the community’s public engagement and community-building efforts to strengthen the ability of community members to participate in government decision-making (e.g. a leadership academy, the “functions of your local government” page on agency website, how to attend a council meeting, etc.).
□ Elected officials and/or senior staff regularly make themselves available in accessible community settings to answer questions from constituents.
□ In partnership with schools, community colleges, and local youth-serving nonprofits and community organizations, students and young adults are offered opportunities to get involved in community issues.
Review and Evaluation
□ Participants in public engagement efforts are kept informed about progress and other opportunities for participation, and understand how their participation affected the decision-making process.
□ Public engagement programs, policies, and methods are periodically evaluated by the agency and refined in light of experience and community feedback.