Increasingly, the public expects to have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect their lives. Consensus is fortunate to build on the work of national leaders in the field, and recommend articles and books that tell the story of public engagement. And, since our founding in 1984, Consensus has produced reports and discussion guides that show how the public approaches its role in decision-making and on important issues.

Public engagement is the process through which people like you and me have a voice in decisions that affect our lives. Consensus works with national leaders in public engagement, and is proud to build on their great work.

Recommended reading – Books 

Bringing Citizen Voices to the Table: A Guide for Public Managers, by Carolyn Lukensmeyer. The founding director of AmericaSpeaks shares fascinating stories of bringing public engagement to scale.

Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World, by Dan Yankelovich. The renowned public opinion pollster explains seven steps from mass opinion to thoughtful public judgment, punctuated with lots of interesting examples.

Dealing with an Angry Public: The Mutual Gains Approach to Resolving Disputes, by Lawrence Susskind and Patrick Field. Full of great stories about how to build a relationship of trust.

Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy, by Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger. Part of the Bryson Series in Public and Nonprofit Management, the book explains the distinction between thick, thin and conventional engagement, and explains the system within which engagement happens.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Dan Health and Chip Heath. Many of their ideas for creating change are directly applicable to public engagement. A fascinating read.

Recommended reading – Articles and Reports

Consensus Civility Focus Groups: A Summary. We held focus groups across the political spectrum to find out how people want to be engaged in difficult public issues. What they told us might surprise you. Download Civility_Focus_Group_Summary 10 pages – Kansas City

Dealing with Deeply Held Concerns and Other Challenges to Public Engagement Processes,” by the Institute for Local Government. Download  deeply_held_concerns_final_draft for advice when there are strong perspectives and deep feelings about an issue.

International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Toolbox. Download the IAP2 toolbox to see the range of public engagement options available, and advice on when to use them.

Naming and Framing Difficult Issues to Make Sound Decisions,” by David Mathews. The director of the Kettering Foundation offers an accessible explanation of how to work with citizens to make tough choices involved in local and national issues.

“National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) Resource Guide.” Download the guide NCDD2010_Resource_Guide to learn about ways to engage the public, with links to additional resources.

Planning Public Forums: Questions to Guide Local Officials,” by the Institute for Local Government. Why to involvement the public and how to determine the design of effective public meetings.

Consensus produces reports and deliberative discussion guides on behalf of the community and our clients.

Blood and Ashes” discussion guide, produced for the Johnson County Library, was used to engage the public in conversation about how we should commemorate the border war between Missouri and Kansas. Download here: Border War discussion guide

Creating Community Solutions-KC. Download the report produced after the public engagement event here: Summary report – ccs-kc 9-21-13. To learn what people told us that day, download In their own words – Feb 2014. To see the community’s action plan: Action plan – visual. For a timeline of the project: Timeline – CCS-KC.

Libraries Together in Scott County worked with four libraries and their patrons to consider how best to provide library services. It received national attention for the deliberative methods it used to engage the public. The final report: Libraries Together in Scott County Final Report. The article in the IAP2 national newsletter: International Association for Public Participation article on Libraries Together. The article in American Libraries: American Libraries article on Libraries Together.

“A Living Wage: Making the Economy Work for Everyone,” is a deliberative discussion guide produced for the Mid-Continent Public Library, part of its Local Issues Project. Download the guide here: living_wage_guide – FINAL.

“Making Book: Gambling on the Future of Our Libraries,” was a white paper on the structure and governance of local libraries. OCLC included it in its national recommended reading list, it was taught in MLS programs and covered in various library publications. Download the report here: Making Book – complete report.

Pandemic Flu Report was produced in collaboration with the Mid-America Regional Council and local health departments, which wanted to know how people would be likely to respond if a pandemic was headed our way.

Science and religion discussion guide was produced for Science, Inc., a project with KCPT, the Johnson County Library and science organizations. It was used during a public forum at the library.

Washington State Library – five-year plan was the result of four future search conferences held around the state. The conferences identified common ground for action and unique ideas, and were the basis for the Washington State Library strategic plan.