ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP®) facilitation methods bring a legacy of tools for groups that foster participation, engagement, collaboration and effective action. ICA utilized these methods in the USA to launch Town Meetings ‘76. Those local efforts engaged citizens in considering issues and opportunities before them as they sought to improve and develop their towns and communities. In a bold experiment catalyzing engagement, collaboration, and action, ICA conducted over 5,000 meetings.
To celebrate this legacy of community action and the value of ToP methods, trained facilitators, ICA USA staff, and colleagues in the US ToP Network organized events in seven cities as part of a national collaboration to accelerate climate action. Facilitators partnered with local organizations to design and implement sessions which addressed critical issues in those areas. Over 40 collaborators organized this initiative, and many of the facilitators and organizations are planning on continuing the work with their new partners. In the following summaries a main ToP facilitator or organizer is listed, but we thank all that participated.
Milwaukee Greenway Workshop, Milwaukee, WI. (Amy Murphy): 35 local stakeholders and activists currently working on the expansion of city greenways and storm water management met to share insights on project opportunities and challenges, strategized how to collaborate, and formed teams to move forward.
Accelerate Climate Action Community Forum, Denver, CO. (Sunny Walker): 40 residents from 17 Denver Metro neighborhoods came together to consider how local citizens could join in the effort to slow the worst effects of climate change. This event partnered with Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN), ICA-USA and Wartburg College West.
Alliance for Sustainability Planning for Resilient Cities Workshop, Twin Cities, MN. (Rachel Hefte): 140 staff, elected leaders, and commission and community volunteers from 38 metro cities met to explore ways to develop sustainability vision statements, goals and strategies for implementation. Peers from other communities also gathered to explore how to advocate for their city to include energy, adaptation, transportation/land use, health/equity themes in city planning.
Phoenix Community Gathering 2016 (Neighborhoods Connect Town Hall Series Pilot), Phoenix, AZ. (Courtney Lonergan): 100+ multi-generational leaders and policymakers explored emerging solutions about the Muslim Reform Movement, police and neighborhood connections, and inspiring environmentally conscious citizens.
Youth as Facilitative Leaders Workshop, Chicago, IL. (Seva Gandhi): 15 Bronzeville community teens and other Chicago youth engaged in collaborative thinking and dialogue about how to activate their passions into constructive action.
Leveraging Our Leadership for Powerful Climate Action, Austin, TX. (Lynda Baker): 23 stakeholders of organizations working locally and nationally on climate action met to collaborate as leaders of climate advocacy, justice, and innovation to accelerate inclusive solutions locally, regionally and globally.
Tucson Emerging 2030 District Action Planning Session, Tucson, AZ. (Linda Ellinor): 22 participants strategized how to increase participation of residents and tap into the existing commitment of a 50% reduction in energy use, water use, and transportation emissions by the year 2030.
Climate Justice Allyship Building, Chicago, IL. (Caitlin Sarro): 60 residents and organizations gathered to identify actionable steps they could take to support each other and have greater collective impact around climate justice in Chicago. This event was organized with 350 Chicago and ThoughtWorks.
In addition to helping the local initiatives, these meetings have produced a wealth of information on using ToP methods for climate change action of various scales and diversity. This series was a valuable learning opportunity that strengthened relationships and laid the ground for future collaborations.
This article was first published in ICA USA’s Intitiatives, December 2016.