IMPLEMENTING INCLUSIVE PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT PRACTICES: A CASE STUDY
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Public involvement efforts conducted by municipal governments frequently fail to reach beyond the ‘usual suspects.’ Traditional methods, such as hearings, citizen advisory boards, surveys, and internet forums often reinforce centralized decision making processes and exclude certain population groups. These limitations indicate the need for structural and institutional change in local governments for improving the inclusivity of public involvement. This research is an instrumental case study of the City of Seattle’s policies that promote racial equity and inclusive public engagement: the Race and Social Justice Initiative, Executive Order 05-08, and Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement Guide. The purpose of this research is to identify ways for local governments to achieve more inclusivity in their public engagement and outreach, and to determine the role of policies in that work. The case study addresses how the City of Seattle and its staff is able to implement the Executive Order 05-08 on a citywide level and engage community members in more inclusive ways. Key results show that making public participation more inclusive requires long-term commitment to institutional change, policies that promote social justice and racial equity, cultural competency and emotional intelligence, and innovative strategies. Finally, a set of considerations is offered for practitioners, community members, and other parties interested in inclusive public engagement.