CONCUR Principal Scott McCreary teamed with Peter Adler, Keith Mattson, Jana Wolff, Katie Ranney, and other colleagues in the ACCORD 3.0 network, to convene a major workshop, “Public Participation in a Polarized Era–the Good, the Bad the Future.” The conference was designed to incubate specific future actionable items related to strengthening the Hawaiian legislative process, rules and procedures for public engagement, and new tools and technologies. A key premise of the meeting was that public discourse has become increasingly polarized and hostile, making it harder to arrive at decisions that can be supported by a plurality of citizens. Businesses often feel victimized by the tyranny of the minorities that come out to public meetings. At the same time, advocacy groups feel frustrated that they have so little impact.

Nearly 125 attendees—including government officials, community activists, consultants and journalists–convened in Honolulu at the East West Center and the University of Hawai‘i Law School on Dec 1-2, 2017.

Scott served as a panel moderator that addressed five complex land use planning and public policy cases, emphasizing lessons on recruiting participants, ensuring accountability and legitimacy, and crafting decision rules for reaching agreement and ensuring implementation. Cases included the 2016 ‘Aha-Hawaiian constitutional convention (Kalei’aina Lee), Envision Mauna Kea (Gordon Chun), the Ulupono Dairy proposal on Kauai (Amy Hennessey), Complete Streets Planning (Melissa White) and the Kaka‘ako Citizens Advisory Committee (Kem Lowry).

Scott also served as a panelist on a “rapid fire brainstorming” session of the workshop covering innovations, solutions, and fixes.

The second day of the workshop included presentations on a series of strategies and skills including:

  • Planning and Designing Public Consultation Processes
  • Transparency and Privacy: Grappling with the public’s right to know and the need to explore solutions out of the public glare
  • Consultation Processes with Native Hawaiian Communities

The meeting generated a series of recommendations to strengthen the Hawaiian legislative process, rules and procedures for public engagement, and new tools and technologies. Materials from the conference, including the power point presentations are available here.

Image credit: Alex Bergo and Viil Lid (image created using MeetingSift)