Moving from the ways we participate to the new ways we communicate

Credit: Fresno Council of Governments

Credit: Fresno Council of Governments

What has public participation accomplished in your community? Last month we featured public participation successes in communities from West Hollywood to Saskatewan, Canada. These projects and approaches included small but influential efforts like creating a comfortable environment at public workshops or making participation easy by placing pop-up workshops or sounding boards in areas people frequent. These practices are improving how we interact with local planning agencies, governments and each other. It’s no wonder two of the projects we featured are International Association of Public Participation award winners.

We saw innovation from the City of West Hollywood Social Services Division and the ourWascana Visioning Project. We saw a step in the right direction for voting in Oregon with Healthy Democracy Oregon’s Citizens’ Initiative Review. And with the World Café we saw an approach that has been welcomed on a global scale.

As a public outreach and communications firm we always welcome new advances in the practice of public participation. New technology and social media are making participating even easier, but these tools don’t reach everyone. The digital divide still exists, making traditional public participation just as important to reaching consensus. It was great to see both new and traditional mediums for public participation used with the projects and initiatives we featured. The more opportunities people have to participate, the more representative the input received will be. Effective public participation results in better decisions. Better decisions result in better communities.

Credit: Eric S. Townsend Marketing

Credit: Eric S. Townsend Marketing

We want to thank last month’s interviewees for taking the time to participate in our blog series and for the work they do to advance successful public participation.

First Lady Michelle Obama shared her meeting with local artists on Goree Island  in Senegal on her Instagram. (Credit: Michelle Obama's Instagram Account )

First Lady Michelle Obama shared her meeting with local artists on Goree Island in Senegal on her Instagram.
(Credit: Michelle Obama’s Instagram Account )

This month we are shifting our focus from how we participate in our worlds to how we see our worlds. Everyday, the world is becoming more visual. Images – whether information graphics, environmental signage, branded environments – are doing the talking. True, a picture has always been worth a thousand words, but today there are so many more pictures doing the talking.

Social media applications like Instagram invite us to experience intimate moments with our favorite celebrities, athletes, politicians and heroes.  Vine challenges us to tell a story in six seconds or less. Applications like these are inspiring creativity in their users.

Images have been used to bring stories to life even before the first photograph was taken in 1827. Photojournalists use  their craft to capture raw human emotion, breaking news and some of the most significant moments in history. Social media makes it easier for the average person to participate in this practice. This month we will explore the past with some of the images that influenced us and stayed with us over the years. We will explore the future with the images and technology making it possible to see the world in the palm of your hand.

We hope you will stay with us and share some of your favorite iconic images and the stories behind them. We want to know which images made an impact on your life and we want to know how you use images to communicate today.

Liz Faris, Account Manager
Collaborative Services, Inc.

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