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Equity, Engagement, Community: Empathy Ain't Enough

if a community planning effort is to be judged by the degree to which all voices are heard, then anything short of a big turnout is going to feel like failure. Ben Brown talks equitable engagement, and aligning promises with implementation.
May 24, 2016, 10am PDT | Hazel Borys
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"So you’ve finally aligned the stars to get something important done in your community. Maybe’s it a corridor plan that nods to the needs of pedestrians, bikers and transit riders, as well as car drivers. Maybe it’s an ambitious mixed-use master plan for your downtown. Or a revamped zoning code to enable the development and redevelopment everybody seems to want."

"You’re about to wrap things up with a meeting to remind folks of how far you’ve come, how all the meetings and workshops and interim stakeholder check-ins informed the ideas that emerged. You invite questions. And here comes the most predictable one:"

“'I look around this room, and I see the usual faces. White faces. Comfortable middle-class people. But our community also includes lots of people who aren’t here. Who are historically left out of the conversation. Where are they? How can we say we have a community plan when their voices haven’t been heard?'”

Brown goes on to discuss the return on investment of time, money, trust. If you're a group that's been historically left out of the outcomes, you're going to opt out of the conversations.

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Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 in PlaceShakers
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