The State of Public Meetings

Dating back to a tradition begun in the 1630s, public meetings are an essential part of the political systems, and planning processes, of U.S. cities. Public meetings are also broken, according to this article.

1 minute read

February 13, 2020, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Angry Public Meeting

David Jackmanson / flickr

Patrick Sisson writes on the subject of public meetings—surely a favorite subject of planners all over the Unite States. Public meetings are broken, pronounces the headline of the article, and there are plenty of anecdotes to back up the claim.

Sisson starts with a short history of public meetings, before sharing numerous studies that present evidence of the unrepresentative reality of public meetings, despite the democratic intentions of such gatherings, and describes the roots of the problems plaguing public meetings around the country.

Sisson also includes recommendations for solving the root problems with public meetings, citing the expertise and experience of professionals from the Greater Good Studio. Another big question examined in the article is whether public meetings, and by extension local control, is a useful tool for planning and democracy at all.

Looking for more anecdotes on the state of public meetings in U.S. cities, Sisson is also requesting contributions at #worstpublicmeeting on Twitter. Responses can also be found in the replies on the tweet below.

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