The Power of Participation 2020 Summer Series

Power of Participation Summer Webinar Series

According to recent studies, many local government leaders say they believe residents should play a more active role in local government decision-making than they currently do. These same officials report declining levels of engagement from their residents. Local governments want resident input to inform key decisions but are frequently unable to get significant engagement. So, the question is whether to accept low levels of engagement, and the problems that come along with that or focus on how best to engage the public in a way that works for both local governments AND residents. 

Through well-planned public engagement efforts, local governments can gather resident input in ways that make residents feel their voices are heard and matter in the process, includes stakeholders from across the community, builds trust in leadership, and leads to better and more well-supported decision making. 

Michigan State University Extension and the National Charrette Institute's "Power of Participation" summer webinar series is a 4-part series that is designed to help local governments enhance public participation efforts. This series will guide you through developing a Participation Plan including stakeholder analysis, Open Meetings Act requirements, and strategies for creative engagement. 

There are four webinars in the series - we encourage you to sign up for all of them as they're designed as a continuous program, but if one topic is of particular interest, feel free to sign up for them individually. 

Why do Public Participation? The Importance of Actively Engaging the Public - July 14 - Have you ever wondered why no one comes to your public meetings? Perhaps you’ve had a moment when you wished no one would come to your public meeting. Although public participation can be perplexing, it’s fundamental to decision-making processes. This webinar will inspire you to renew your commitment to actively engaging the public. In the first session in a series of four webinars, participants will identify local issues and craft a clear purpose for public engagement in their communities.

Who is "The Public"? Identifying Stakeholders and Understanding Bias - July 16 - Each community is made up of people who have a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.  In order to effectively engage “the public”it’s critical for local leaders to understand the diversity that makes up their community, to know how bias may impact engagement, and to have thoughtful and intentional strategies for including the voices of all people in decision making processes.  This webinar will provide leaders with an opportunity to learn more about these critical components of public participation.

How to Select the Right Strategy Part 1: Following the Open Meetings Act - July 21 - Sunshine laws requiring open meetings were written to ensure that the governmental decision-making process would be accessible to residents. They set a minimum standard for openness and transparency that all public bodies must follow in conducting their business. Using Michigan's Open Meetings Act (OMA) as an example, this webinar will cover the basics of open meeting requirements, best practices for resident participation in open meetings, and explore how encouraging greater openness and participation than required can lead to better outcomes.  

How to Select the Right Strategy Part 2: Being Strategic and Creative - July 23 - Moving beyond the minimum standards for public bodies, there are many creative ways to engage the public. This webinar help you select the right public participation strategy to solve complex community issues. It will include examples from surveys to charrettes and top tips for implementation. Learn to be effective in working with the public to build trust and improve outcomes for all.

All webinars run 10 - 11:30 a.m. (EST).

Webinars will be recorded.

Approved Credits:
  • 4 AIA/LU
  • 4 AICP/CM
  • 4 ASLA/PDH
  • 4 Master Citizen Planner

Cost: $5 per webinar, or register for all four for $20.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

Please contact Eric Walcott by email at with any questions.