Only in Williams Lake

Columnist Diana French presents her preference for public meetings hosted by candidates, proponents or whoever.

Driving downtown one morning last  week, I realized that whatever “placebrand” the city comes up with, one thing won’t change, and that is horse droppings on downtown streets. I personally would rather have horse poop on the pavement than chemicals sprayed on the grass on city boulevards.

Speaking of place brand, council’s plan for communicating with the public is on the city’s agenda tonight. And speaking of communicating, it continues to astonish me that in these days when technology puts the world at our fingertips, so many of us don’t know what’s happening in our own community, let alone in the province or country.

According to Wikipedia, communications  is sharing, exchanging thoughts or information. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I do wonder if some newer methods of communicating are effective in doing that. Some public information meetings are more like sales jobs, one way communication only.

Example  one. The  Open House;  Candidates/Proponents/Whoever (C/P/Ws ) make their pitch to the assembly,  then go to individual tables where people can speak to them one-on-one.

Example two. The  Facilitated  meeting;  C/P/Ws  explain their plans to the gathering, but  all questions from the floor go to the facilitator,  who records them for  C/P/Ws consideration. At some point a report goes out to participants. Example  three. The Forum;  a more traditional process and my preference;  (C/P/Ws) sit in front of the gathering. They make their pitch, then field  questions from the floor.

Some C/P/Ws  don’t  like  example three because it puts them in the hot seat, but surely if you believe in your product (yourself or your  project) you should be OK with questions from the floor.

That way everyone  present is  actually sharing the information (from the answers and the body language.) Sometimes there is even some meaningful exchange of information. Isn’t that what public meetings are for?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.