1. Dear Scott and Ben…

    Thank you ..thank you..Thank you…It’s nice when the cover is really tossed off the “public engagement” theme.

    We can all agree that “public engagement” can be messy. Unfortunately many (not to be read..”all”..) who are in a position of power would rather such messiness disappear so that the grown-ups can get on with the real work at hand. While I truly I empathize (I do..I get it) with those who find the public process difficult…there can be no single behavior that I find accounts for greater conflict escalation that when community people feel not heard. I always like to use the image of the old finger lock we use to get at birthday parties. The tighter one pulls on it..the tighter it gets…If we can all step back a bit and stop the tugging and let go of the finger lock…we might be able to have a better conversations that might yield more understanding…and possibly a greater willingness to actually work through the differences..

  2. I really appreciated this piece and agree with many of the suggestions. I do take issue with your point about disengagement being the goal (though I get you are being provocative here). When you say government should look to customer satisfaction as a metric I think it simplifies the complexity facing our local governments and reduces citizens to merely customers rather than seeing them as needing to be as responsible for community change as our governments are. It reminds me of the vending machine vs. barn raising metaphor that Ventura City’s Manager Rick Cole used to talk about community engagement:

  3. This fine piece left out one important element: the importance of not only listening but to listen along with learning and being really open to modifying your goals. Listen and learning should be built up by all.

  4. Great piece of work. What the authors discuss in this article is what I like to call “authentic” public engagement, a principle outcome of which is building more sustainable trust-based relationships between citizens and governments, the public and large organizations, etc. Truly authentic public engagement challenges us when it comes to measurement and evaluation — measuring changes in trust and confidence is difficult and imperfect. However, at the end of the day, this should not prevent us from striving for authentic public engagement versus a kind of widget-counting, check-off-the-box public engagement activities that are sadly all too common. I think that public engagement professionals and academics need to devote more time and attention to creating evaluation frameworks and low cost and easy-to-use tools that will help us identify authentic public engagement and to differentiate it from public engagement that simply goes through the motions.


  1. […] a problem. We’ve said it before, repeatedly, and I’m sure we’ll say it again: Your community has a story. A rich story, with a […]

  2. […] community begins and ends with something you can’t fake: trust. Elected officials, city hall, and other community leaders listening, engaging in a meaningful […]

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