National Damage Control

A couple of weeks ago David Brooks wrote in the New York Times, “Distrustful politicians [like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton] were nominated by an increasingly distrustful nation. A generation ago, about half of all Americans felt they could trust the people around them, but now less than a third think other people are trustworthy. Only about 19 percent of Millennials believe other people can be trusted. Across all age groups, there is a rising culture of paranoia and conspiracy mongering, and a surge of unmerited cynicism. We set out a decade ago to democratize the Middle East, but we’ve ended up Middle Easternizing our democracy.”

In spite of their pervasive nature, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the other superficial (social) media platforms aren’t helping much. Information or opinions don’t have to be accurate or insightful, just fast and entertaining. The November 8 election isn’t going to truly resolve much other than filling one job. We can’t yet know what kind of effect this campaign has had on our collective psyches, or values or kids. We’ll need to put this this political-porn circus behind us and get to work…all of us…together.


Where We Go From Here  

A while back we asked you to fill out a survey about the state of the art, the future of public participation and community engagement. It’s pretty easy to come out of this election cycle as a cynic and, as David Brooks wrote above, we have a lot of trust to (re)build.

In Montreal, we just presented the results of what 233 professionals around the globe told us regarding how they think things are. Here’s what they said:

The Game Changing Climate Challenge  

Some research points to one pretty identifiable segment of the population that seems to be standing in the way of getting on with seriously addressing climate change. Here’s who they are:

Like a Good Neighbor  

The best public participation happening is happening locally. We work at all levels of government (plus businesses and NGOs) but it’s been our experience that cities are doing more community involvement and generally doing it better. This piece sheds some light on public involvement at the neighborhood level…

Public is the Point of Public Service  

…and the fact is that a lot of people in public service aren’t all that comfortable communicating with people. Ironic, isn’t it? We always try to bring you some simple tips to make this process more comfortable. Many times it starts on the phone:

The public servants that we work with and for are typically caring, smart and extremely well educated scientists, engineers and other “no-B.S.” specialists that need evidence to be convinced. So, here’s a slightly more science-based approach to the communication craft:

For a bit more advanced and nuanced perspective on the art and science of communication, please consider the following…

Convincing Others  

It was back when I was a mere tadpole in this field that I first read the groundbreaking book Influence by ASU’s Robert Cialdini. It changed my career path and my thinking, and remains relevant. Here’s a government perspective on the lessons that it teaches:

Conflict Resolution Strategies & Conflict Resolution Techniques  

The Participation Company (TPC) partners facilitate, consult, coach and train government agencies and businesses with their public conflicts and community involvement programs.  We’ve had success with some of the toughest issues around.

Open registration International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Salt Lake City, UT: December 5 – 9, 2016
* Arlington, VA: February 6 – 10, 2017
* Austin, TX: March 27 – 31, 2017
* Orlando, FL: May 1 – 5, 2017
* Denver, CO: June 5 – 9, 2017

IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation 2-Day Course:

* Phoenix, AZ 2017
* Denver, CO 2017
* Arlington, VA 2017

Click on to join us and watch for new courses coming in 2017. You’ll also find lots more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Marty Rozelle, Doug Sarno and me at

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)

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