Driving downtown one morning last week, I realized that whatever “place brand” 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 number 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 number 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 number 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 number 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.