Welcome to the west coast chapter of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Canada. We are an Association seeking to promote and improve the practice of public participation with individuals, governments, institutions, and other entities that affect the public interest in British Columbia, Canada and around the world. This new website has been developed to support our members and to further the practice of public participation at the local level. Take a few moments to explore the site and see what new resources are available and learn how you can contribute.
SPRING 2019 BULLETIN
This has been a great year for P2 in BC and the Yukon. Our Chapter’s membership has grown by 37 new members since January, we’ve hosted some great events, and we’re looking forward to what’s in store for the summer.
Below you’ll find a member spotlight on Ali Versi, our Chapter’s new Youth Coordinator, and reflections on P2 in the Yukon from Emily Jarvis, another of our Board Members.
The IAP2 BC “Member Spotlight” is a way for our members to get to know each other. Contact us to showcase your practice at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This time around we thought that we’d showcase a new member of the Board. Below is a bit about our new Youth Coordinator, Ali Versi.
Ali Versi is a fourth-year Political Science student at SFU with a focus on Public Policy & Democratic Governance. As a Millennial himself, Ali is passionate about increasing the participation of Millennials and Post-Millennials in the community. Therefore, his position as the Youth Coordinator on the Board for the IAP2 BC & Yukon Chapter is a natural fit.
Recently, Ali hosted a series of dialogues at SFU on a wide range of civic matters such as community building, interpersonal relationships, and on how to practice dialogue itself within our spheres. As a result, we were able to recruit new student members to the BC & Yukon Chapter!
He has participated in international conferences representing youth in conversations about the issues that matter to them. As a delegate of the Young Leaders at the Global Alliance for Banking on Values Summit and as a delegate at the IAP2 Annual Conference in Victoria, he has closely engaged with industry leaders and urged them to invest in and with youth to promote sustainable values.
In addition, he has previously served in the non-partisan Constituency Youth Council of his Member of Parliament where he advised M.P. Terry Beech on issued related to Burnaby – North Seymour such as housing, the environment, and electoral reform. As an advocate for public participation, Ali has worked at the polling stations of Municipal and Provincial elections assisting voters through the election process. He is an alumnus of the Institute for Future Legislators program where he received professional mentorship on political representation from academic experts, political journalists, and former elected officials.
He is also an alumnus of the Semester in Dialogue and Civic Innovation Change Lab programs where he worked on projects to develop electric vehicle infrastructure in Richmond and to advance reconciliation within the community. In addition, Ali has been trained to advocate and promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out by the U.N. Environment Agency Director.
As a past intern at a Vancouver-based digital health company, Ali has experience working in the private sector, where he practiced social entrepreneurship and technological innovation. As a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Access Program, he has been exposed to the trade industry and has engaged with business leaders, the Mayor and Members of the Council.
Ali is set to begin his one-year mandate at the SFU Board of Governors in June 2019 as the representative of the Undergraduate student body where he will continue his work of influencing policy options for students and youth.
During his free time, Ali enjoys watching Late Night Shows and comedians making fun of politicians. If the weather is good, he enjoys spending time outdoors.
Showcase your practice!
IAP2 BC publishes this Member Bulletin a couple times a year. Would you like to showcase your practice in the member spotlight? Please send us a 150-250 word description for the next bulletin to email@example.com.
View from the Yukon
Emily Jarvis is a Director at Large for the BC & Yukon Chapter of IAP2 and is a P2 practitioner working in the Yukon. Below are some of her reflections on P2 in her community. If you’ve got some thoughts on the P2 practice in your community that you’d like to share in future IAP2 BC & Yukon bulletins, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A few P2 practitioners up here have been chatting amongst ourselves (for now!) about a particularly context-oriented topic: engagement in small communities. Yukon, the territory where I currently rest my head, bike around, and participate in community life, is home to about 37,000 people… TOTAL. 26,000 of those folks live in Whitehorse, the capital – on Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än First Nation land. Yukoners know this vibrant, diverse, eclectic, passionate bunch of people have lots to say. Recently, however, the territory has experienced a higher volume of questions coming their way from all sorts of governments, organizations, and companies. Public engagement has hit the Yukon in a big way in the last little while! Not that this hasn’t happened before. It did, rest assured. But maybe it’s our current climate of “have a say” that is making practically every decision up for consideration.
The P2 world is both hearing and sensing/perceiving a bit of feedback about this inflated environment of engagement. There is a bit of a response in the air, shall we say, that shouts: “STOP ENGAGING ON EVERYTHING… WEREN’T YOU JUST HERE TALKING TO ME ABOUT THIS LAST WEEK?”
- What do you think about these new park plan options?
- What would an inclusive neighbourhood look like to you?
- How do we better serve the needs of youth looking for housing?
- What would a co-working space do for your business?
- We’re writing a 10-year strategy on climate change, energy and a green economy, what do you think should be in there?
- What health research would you like to see more of in your community?
- How do we improve tourism in our region?(These are all riffs on some topics that have come up in engagement projects across the territory recently)
It gets a bit tedious, particularly if you’re seeing people from the same organizations, over and over again. They come ask for a day or an hour or a minute of your time to talk about something they clearly think is a priority. “Engagement fatigue” is the phrase that’s circling around these northern parts. If I was to put myself in the shoes of someone here, particularly if they lived in a smaller community outside of Whitehorse, I’d think to myself:
- I shared what I thought at the last meeting about community values…
- Their priority is not really something I think my community has the capacity to focus on at the moment. And I certainly don’t have the capacity to go to this event they scheduled on a week night.
- I have been advocating in other ways for other ideas for a long time, and haven’t seen any action on those. Why should I go talk about what they want to talk about?
- This subject is always so difficult for me to speak to. I trusted the last group who brought it up, and said my piece. Now I’m not sure…
- I just don’t see value in this conversation. It really doesn’t apply to my life. I wish they’d just make a decision.(These are all riffs on comments I’ve heard through the ol’ grape vine)
Some P2-ers in the Yukon have been scratching our heads about this. Maybe you can relate? More engagement is not necessarily good engagement. And more engagement in small communities, without good planning or meaningful follow through, can really feel exhausting. I’ve landed on some ideas for shifting the current engagement status-quo, particularly in smaller communities:
- Let’s host multi-topic or cross-topic engagement opportunities: can we do some collaboration as engagers or decision-makers? How can we put our heads together to put our issues together? Maybe we can get multiple points of feedback, from multiple people, on multiple topics at once.
- Small communities already have networks established where people share their thoughts and feelings: let’s not schedule separate events and times for people to talk about things they’re already talking. What are the regular spaces and who are the regular people with whom our neighbours/clients/community members feel comfortable?
- Small communities deserve gratitude: let’s recruit people to new conversations first by saying thanks to the groups and individuals we know are working hard to host their own conversations. And let’s participate in theirs too! It means a lot to let people know that their work doesn’t go unnoticed, that we’d like to participate in their projects, and ultimately learn from that work to be able to do our own.
- Small communities offer the opportunity to build real, lasting relationships: How might decision-makers have our ears to the ground more often? How might we establish the relationships where we have an ongoing dialogue with community and individuals, so that we don’t have to go back out with generic questions on values or preferences, time and time again?
What do you think? What would you do?
Sincerely, your pal in the north,
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