Samantha Anderson is a Senior Project Officer at Sustainable Cities

Day 3 of the Sustainable Cities  : PLUS Network Biennal conference in Ottawa

Relationships and engagement have been the theme of the day. There’s no question in anyone’s mind how important it is, which is why we return to this topic over and over again. One of the delegates, in talking about how to engage youth, noted that while it’s a hot topic right now, the challenge is to engage in a meaningful, not token way. Which really is the issue with engaging everyone, isn’t it? How do we engage and participate in a meaningful way, moving towards our goals, so that we don’t burn out, or become disillusioned?

We discussed whether one needs to engage people  first, and build consensus for a successful project, or forget consensus and jump into projects that would engage people.

Who leads, the community or the city? And who in the city?

We’re mostly planners, but where do we get without the engineers?

The conclusion seemed to be that sustainability is everyone’s responsibility, and something this complex needs multiple approaches.


About sustainablecitiesnetwork

Sustainable Cities International is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Operating since 1993, the mission of Sustainable Cities is to catalyze action on urban sustainability with cities around the world. We work by connecting and mobilizing people through the process of co-creating. We facilitate a thriving, international network of cities that act as urban laboratories: adopting, testing and improving on innovations. Ideas are accelerated through sharing of experience and cities are making transformational change a reality
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2 Responses to Engagement

  1. Max says:

    It’s definitely is a very interesting topic. I think your question of “who leads?” is crucial and helps us determine where we are in the process of becoming more participatory. I feel like we’re in the middle of the shift right now.. Governments in the past have used a top down approach, to which many people have become accustomed to. We’re now seeing the shift to a more bottom-up, open and democratized process, but it’s being brought about by a new mindset in the government. So, I think the next part is making sure people are widely aware that they now hold the reins and that their government is looking to meaningfully engage them. I really think that’s the biggest challenge. Overcoming apathy caused by decades of a top down approach is hard, much harder than taking a new approach as a government.

    That’s not to say the government’s role to do “meaningful engagement” isn’t without its challenges. That’s where creative and out of the box methodologies are needed!

  2. Guilherme Fragomeni says:

    Definetly a great topic. Here in Brazil, participation is the key issue on planning discussions.
    Participatory planning became obbligatory due to recent federal legislation. For municipal development plans, municipalities are obliged to do at least 3 public hearings. Thing is…the obbligation came before the public demand for participation…and many of these meetings are attended only by people with personal interests or political rivals…in other words…they haven´t been very productive and that makes a lot fo people loose faith in public participation.

    The experiences I learned during ICSC Conference in Ottawa-Gatineau showed me that participatory planning is really the way to go, maybe we have to capacitate people for better inputs, but at least we are on the right track!

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