Civility. It’s a word I don’t recall hearing discussed much over the years, until recently, as our national political dialogue has shifted, with name calling and finger-pointing occurring on both sides of the political aisle and with challenging issues arising throughout our individual communities. As a strategic communications firm that has spent more than 30 years working with difficult and sometimes contentious land-use, environmental and other community stakeholder issues, we at K&A are reminded of how important this notion of civility is now, more than ever. From school campuses to board rooms to community groups, everyone has strong opinions and we need to remember to do as much listening as we do talking.
So, what could be contributing to this vitriol? With a 24-hour news cycle and myriad social media platforms to get news and information, attention spans are at an all-time low and statistics show that given the wealth of available content, people generally consume news that aligns with their point of view. It has led to less patience, less tolerance, and often an unwillingness to consider other perspectives on the same issue. Hence the need for civility.
Having joined K&A as the firm’s new president six months ago, I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with our team and learn about exciting and challenging projects we are working on throughout the state and across the country. Every project is important, and so too is the opportunity to ensure people have a voice that contributes to a diverse dialogue of opinions and helps achieve a successful and inclusive result.
What has also been gratifying, is seeing our commitment to an effective public participation process as established by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) – an international association focused on advancing the practice of public participation through training, for which our former president, Lewis Michaelson, was one of the principal architects of the curriculum. To date, 18 K&A team members have completed IAP2 training.
K&A has never taken for granted the need for civil and respectful dialogue. Using proven IAP2 methods, we work closely with all our client partners, from large municipal transportation agencies to water districts to developers, to ensure the end result of any communications or engagement process is one made better by respectful dialogue and community input.
Should you have a potentially challenging project or program in need of community engagement and strategic communications, consider putting our 30-plus years of experience to work for you. And remember, a bit of civility goes a long way.