The Art of Public Involvement

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Brandon Huxford

Group Manager

As practitioners, we know that federally funded projects mandate public involvement. Instead of just “checking the box” when it comes to public involvement, at Freese and Nichols, we take the opportunity to maximize the full value of public involvement. Here are some tips for effective public engagement:

Reach people where they are.

Consider the “digital divide” in your community and develop approaches to bridge the gap with these often-marginalized populations. While digital is trendy, older analog approaches can be critical to inclusive, equitable engagement. Physically walk the property that will be involved in an upcoming project and meet every landowner possible to gain their perspective.

Use compelling visuals that reflect the community.

Explore options that enable you to effectively make a personal connection with your audience. Preparing a 1/82 scale drawing and using matchbox cars to talk about a project at a city hall meeting visually encourages meaningful engagement and can produce responsive public input to guide leaders in shaping and executing community improvements.

Be creative about spreading the word.

While in-person elements will remain a foothold, online tools continue to play a predominant role. Hosting a virtual open house with someone narrating the presentation adds a personal touch for community members to feel like they are there.

If you are interested in taking public involvement to the next level, please reach out to Freese and Nichols for your next project. We would be happy to share tools and methods with you.

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Brandon Huxford is our Central Plains Transportation Group Manager in Oklahoma City.