Rethinking public engagement during social distancing
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Center for Disease Control recommends that U.S. citizens avoid close contact by practicing social distancing. In light of this, we are recommending all of our clients and partners postpone in-person stakeholder meetings through May 31, 2020.
Some projects may need to cease public engagement for the next few weeks as stakeholders acclimate to social distancing, cancelled schools and day care, working from home, job loss or furloughs, and caring for the sick.
However, we are encouraging our clients and partners to consider ways to maintain communication during this unprecedented time, as well as how and when virtual and non-virtual engagement techniques that allow social distancing are reasonable options to solicit community input.
It can be done. And it can be done well.
This Google spreadsheet outlines a variety of tools that can be used to communicate with stakeholders, shift meetings to an online forum, and continue to advance projects. Please note that the sudden, increased demand on virtual meeting services may delay or prohibit use at certain times. We are monitoring the capacity of services and have seen that services providers are quickly addressing capacity issues.
We’ve been updating this for the last ten days and will continue to do so as we learn more. We welcome your input and feedback on these tools and methods. You are welcome to share it with your colleagues and partners, and we look forward to connecting with you.
Stay healthy and safe!
*For more information about how to make virtual engagement work better for you, check out this post: Three Ways to Make Public Engagement Great During the COVID-19 Era