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Public Engagement and Communications Overview

The community is a driving force in each step of the neighborhood planning process. Effective outreach uses diverse methods to reach people in order to get the word out about an event, provide updates, or to gain specific feedback. There are many tools and approaches for public engagement, but not all of them are effective in all situations. In identifying an effective public engagement strategy, it’s important to consider the stakeholders and to anticipate their needs. It’s equally important to recognize that people want to engage in the process in different ways and at varying levels of detail. Successful outreach provides multiple ways to be involved, enabling people to participate in the way that works best for them. The process laid out by the Neighborhood Planning Initiative Strategic Plan (PDF) will use the general outreach framework presented here as a starting point, but will also customize outreach by creating a unique community engagement strategy for each plan area.

 

Traditional.

These are held at key points throughout the planning process to solicit input, feedback, and guidance from the general public. Each meeting typically combines a presentation with one or more structured exercises, often conducted in small groups.

A steering committee is a small group of participants (about 10) selected by city councilmembers and who represent diverse interests including but not limited to residential, business, non-profit, and underserved populations. The steering committee will meet regularly throughout the planning process to guide all aspects of plan development.

Updates on the planning process are provided in newsletters, including the Denver Community Planning and Development newsletter, Council Office news letters, or Registered Neighborhood Organization newsletters. Updates and meeting announcements are also provided via e-mail to people who provide an e-mail address for that purpose.

Innovative.

These are dual-purpose public meetings where the meeting objective is paired with an entertaining or educational component. Resource fairs are proposed as part of the NPI planning process to help connect people to agencies and programs to address their needs and concerns outside of the area planning process.

These involve setting up a station in a public place, such as at a farmers’ market or outside of a store, and talking to people who pass by. Pop-up events are a good way to increase awareness of the planning process and reach people who may not otherwise participate.

Typically used to address design issues, charrettes are intensive multi-day work sessions that are useful for accomplishing a lot of work in a short amount of time.

These are temporary installations that are useful for testing ideas or demonstrating the potential of a changed condition. They are typically used late in the planning process, when recommendations or alternatives are known.

 

Targeted.

Attend meetings organized by others to reach people who are already involved in other aspects of the community. Work with established groups and get on meeting agendas for business organizations, parent/teacher organizations, etc.

Focus groups are a useful way to collect detailed input from a small group of people.

Review drafts are preliminary drafts of either the full plan or specific plan chapters. Open comment periods allow for detailed input on material before it is finalized.

Holding office hours in the community gives people an opportunity to have direct one-on-one access to the planning team. A field office expands upon this idea by establishing a presence in the community for an extended period of time, such as several days or weeks.

Online.

For each public meeting, NPI will strive to have an “online equivalent”. This is a way for people who did not attend the meeting to review materials and provide input that is comparable to what was provided by meeting attendees.

These include online surveys, polls, mapbased commenting tools, and similar services. Interactive tools differ from the “online equivalent” in that interactive tools aren’t necessarily tied to replicating a public meeting and may be employed at any point in the planning process. Use of these tools will be identified as part of the customized engagement strategy for each area plan.

NPI will have a central information portal/hub for the entire initiative, as well as pages for individual planning processes that are completed or underway.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook are another way to establish the online presence of NPI and individual area plans. They are an especially good way to announce events and increase awareness of the planning process.

 

Denveright Community Visioning Workshops
October 4, 5, 2016
Information boards (PDF)

Planning Board Information Item
October 5, 2016
Presentation (PDF)

Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) Zoning and Planning Committee
October 22, 2016
Presentation (PDF)

Planning Board Information Item #2
December 7, 2016
Presentation (PDF)