At a Glance
Community members in Longmont noted the number & placement of recreational vehicles were growing & some were beginning to consider their presence in neighborhoods a nuisance; the city drafted a policy to control it and expected it to be adopted with no issues. Instead, people poured out to oppose the ordinance.
Even after putting this foundation in place (see below) for involving residents in decision making, the City Manager and his staff realized that they were missing busy and stressed folks that just didn’t have the bandwidth to follow city activities. City leadership started asking: How can they reach more community members? How can they effectively manage community crisis issues such as mental health tragedies, addiction issues, and homelessness?
Community involvement, in Longmont, is defined as “any process that involves the public to achieve an objective” and eventually the framework got its start in 2001 with a Recreational Vehicle (RV) ordinance.
Background information on the City of Longmont; The City of Longmont, established as the Chicago Colony in 1871 and renamed after settlers viewed Longs Peak in the distance, is located about 30 miles north of Denver, Colorado’s capital city. The community hosts just shy of 100,000 residents. There is a strong Japanese and Mexican-American heritage in the community, which began as a farming community and transitioned in the 1970s to a technology hub with IBM choosing the area as its new home. The city organization employs close to a 1,000 people throughout its public safety, public works, community services and utilities departments, as well as parks and golf courses, library, and historic estates throughout the city.
City of Longmont, Colorado used/is using EngagementHQ to address this/these challenge(s).
This kick-started the continuous learning, cross-organizational approach now embodied in community input efforts for the City of Longmont but part of the secret to their success is that they keep evolving. To implement and continuously iterate on this strategy, the City relies on the scalable EngagementHQ online platform.
The City of Longmont is very clear that public input is not needed on all decisions, as staff are technically competent and are empowered to make decisions as required for their roles, but the city is very transparent with the process when public input is needed. The city even shares all of its training materials and techniques with the community on its Community Involvement webpage. This page is a one-stop-shop to various types of involvement from news and media updates all the way through volunteerism and roles on boards and commissions.
The organization modified the IAP2 Spectrum to meet the needs of the community; combining the “involve” and “collaborate” designations and modifying “empower” to “partner” — which is more of a co-creation model than a complete turnover to the public. A planning worksheet, found at the end of the Engaging Community Guide, called Community Involvement Project Summary Sheet, is utilized to determine the level of community involvement for a decision; it focuses on the interests and values of the community. Project managers complete the worksheet, and then meet with a member of the Community Involvement Steering Committee to move things forward in the planning process, and ultimately the implementation. In addition to the steering committee, Longmont has more than 50 trained facilitators on staff spread out across all city departments so almost every engagement is truly a team effort.
The hard work and inclusive nature of Longmont’s strategy both internally and externally has merited two All-America City Awards, in both 2006 and 2018. As a result of the community cohesion formed from this effort, community policing strategies and the neighborhood outreach model, the city and community have been well-poised to pull together in times of crisis — managing mental health tragedies, gang related issues and homelessness. In many ways, the involvement model has created a higher level of resilience than is found in other locations.
- City Council staff create a standardized, strategic community involvement approach for the city to assure that all voices are heard, and that process is clear for decision making.
- City Council staff took the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) and modified it to meet the needs of both the community and organization.
- Community involvement framework created in 2001 after RV policy drafted - Community involvement, in Longmont, is defined as “any process that involves the public to achieve an objective.”
- When utilizing the IAP2 spectrum for their needs, the City of Longmont staff modified “empower” to “partner” — which is more of a co-creation model than a complete turnover to the public.
- To reach more community members, they took their practice online, increasing access and participation, by partnering with Bang the Table to create their community involvement platform.
One planning project allowed community to give input on bike paths and design aspects along the corridor. Tools were chosen relevant to the question being posed & type of feedback saught; Quick Poll attracted attention & drove traffic, Ideas tool allowed votes on input, Stories tool collected community sentiment.
Who Should Consider?
Any government organization that wants to effectively execute citizen engagement efforts for better project planning, to build trust within their community, and to communicate progress to stakeholders.