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Public Participation - Community Relations. Nancy Whittle Office of Environmental Community Health EQC Administration 896-8967. Definition of Public Participation.

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public participation community relations

Public Participation -Community Relations

Nancy Whittle

Office of Environmental Community Health

EQC Administration


definition of public participation
Definition of Public Participation

“Public Participation is any process that involves the public in problem-solving or decision-making and uses public input to make decisions.”

(International Association of Public Participation)

“A full range of actions and processes that EQC uses to involve the public in our work.”

(EQC Public Participation Task Force)

basics of public participation
Basics of Public Participation
  • Public has right to information
  • Public has right to comment & complain
  • Public has right to participate
why meaningful public participation
Why Meaningful Public Participation?
  • Higher Quality of Decision Making
    • Public should have say in decisions about actions affecting their lives.
    • Public participation promises that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
  • Relationship between industry and community based on mutual trust
    • Stakeholders more likely to feel that they are listened to and views respected.
  • Not just about industry – once community is informed they are responsible for how they use the information.
meaningful public participation
Meaningful Public Participation
  • Goes beyond what is required by regulations.
  • Gains understanding of quality of life issues in communities, i.e., social, cultural, health and economic.
  • “My health and quality of life is more important than business profit” (common sentiment of citizens living near sites).
effective communication is key
Effective Communication is Key
  • Builds trust
  • Uses effective outreach methods
  • Meets regularly with community
    • Keeps an open dialogue
ways to build trust
Ways to Build Trust
  • Reach out early & in a proactive way to community
  • Respond to community concerns & explain clearly how they will be addressed (e.g., routine spills, spill response, truck traffic)
  • Hold open houses & tours of facility
  • Get and give feedback from/to community on how facility is performing
ways to reach your community
Ways to Reach Your Community
  • Get to know your community – who lives there, are there schools, churches nearby and who are those who would have a stake in the process
  • Let the residents determine when to hold meetings, where, and how to get the word out
    • Hold regular meetings
  • Provide information in “plain language”

The right message,

To the right people,

At the right time.

effective meetings
Effective Meetings
  • Create a citizen’s advisory panel
    • Local residents and other appropriate stakeholders (e.g., emergency response, local government).
  • Create an atmosphere where all participants can be part of the discussion – create a dialogue.
results of effective meetings
Results of Effective Meetings
  • Identifying problems
  • Developing alternatives
  • Making decisions
  • Dealing with conflict
    • Outside facilitator may be helpful
good public participation skills
Good Public Participation Skills
  • Effective Listening
  • Effective Speaking
  • Facilitation
  • Presenting Information
  • Dealing with Conflict
  • Continuous Evaluation
good public participation behaviors
Good Public Participation Behaviors
  • Willingness
    • To put forth effort; takes work and conscious effort/attention
  • Openness
    • Toward all others’ points of view, interests, concerns and needs
  • Validation
    • Of each individual’s experience and values
good public participation behaviors cont d
Good Public Participation Behaviors (Cont’d)
  • Respect
    • For individuals, for their experience, points of view, emotions, and needs
  • Humility
    • In order to suspend judgment, assumptions, and take the attitude of a learner
  • Mutuality
    • To approach problems as colleagues or allies to understand issues and solve problems
what do people value in professionals
What Do People Value in Professionals?
  • Caring
  • Competence & Expertise
  • Dedication & Commitment
  • Honesty & Openness
to establish meaningful public participation
To Establish Meaningful Public Participation …

Keys to making it happen …

1. Plan and budget for effective public participation.

2. Learn to be effective communicators in the public participation process.

3. Providing information that the community can understand and use.

additional information
Additional Information
  • “Social Aspects of Siting RCRA Hazardous Waste Facilities”, EPA Booklet,