The City of Brooklyn Park is committed to working toward equitable outcomes by effectively engaging our culturally and racially diverse community around key City projects (proposed policies, new developments, strategic plans, and more). As part of this effort, we use an internally developed Community Engagement Planning Guide to inform how we design our outreach and public participation strategies. This guide is a continually evolving document that incorporates an equity lens, emphasizing the need to mitigate barriers that limit public participation (lack of access to transportation or childcare, limited English proficiency, negative experiences with government, etc.), and acknowledge differences in how varying communities choose to engage and share information. It also recognizes that community engagement work is a continual learning process that evolves and improves through feedback. Our residents are the experts of their own community and we strive to provide opportunities for them to share their knowledge, experiences and perspectives to help shape the future of Brooklyn Park.
The Community Engagement Planning Guide uses a simple five-step approach. Each step includes a set of reflective questions. These questions are not designed to be all encompassing, but instead encourage staff to make important considerations when thinking about how to incorporate public participation in their projects.
- Step 1: Determine whether or not our project requires some level of community engagement
We make a case for why a community engagement process is needed to produce equitable outcomes using four criteria. At the very least, we strive to keep the community informed about key City projects and decisions.
- Step 2: Identify the knowns and unknowns of our project
Once we’ve determined that higher levels of engagement (beyond just informing) requiring active outreach and opportunities for public participation are needed, we work to incorporate a community engagement process into our project timeline (keeping in mind existing limitations i.e. funding, staff capacity, deadlines, etc.).
- Step 3: Determine who to engage
We work to develop an understanding (and examine our assumptions) of the varying ways in which our community stakeholders are impacted, their differing levels of influence (due to existing power dynamics that allow some a seat at the table and disenfranchises others) and current level of engagement (awareness and involvement).
- Step 4: Develop engagement strategies
There are different levels of engagement and public impact. We use the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)’s spectrum of participation model to help us create transparency around the level of influence the community can exercise through participation on a City project. It also helps us to see the types of engagement opportunities we are providing.
- Step 5: Determine what success looks like for our engagement efforts
We strive to look beyond the typical indicators of success, such as the number of attendees at an outreach event, the number of residents who complete a survey, etc. There are other important indicators that focus on increased connections/interactions between residents and City staff or council members, changes in resident perception of city government based on these interactions, increased access/use of City resources and more.
The ultimate goal of this guide is to help grow the practice of equitable and meaningful engagement of the community as an embedded part of our organizational culture.
For any questions, please contact:
Neighborhood Relations Specialist
City of Brooklyn Park