Phase III – Public Participation

What we are finding in our early work in Phase II of BREJT is that the public is likely to err on the side of being too myopic about what concerns them, preferring to describe and try to solve the problem as they see it rather than being able to see the “bigger picture” and work toward a long-term as well as a tactical near-term solution. The bigger-picture perspective is imperative for engaging in the planning and funding process, whereas the “at-hand” perspective is more consistent with problem mitigation at a project design or operations level. While both are important, the tie-in to how decisions are made at the planning level is the ultimate objective of the Toolkit, and one that we are increasingly fearful will be hard to attain working strictly from the “bottom up” through the community case study work groups.

For the community, the limitation is frequently too heavy a focus on immediate/local problems, which — while important — may result in the piecemeal approach of attacking the symptoms and not the problem. The Toolkit will attempt to coach each group of users on how to step back and look at the full picture, consider and measure the dimensions of the problem, and then decide whether to attack it at as an immediate concern, or as a longer-term fundamental change, or both. The case studies are expected to be the primary tool that will enable the disadvantaged community.

While not all community members would be expected to develop the highest levels of awareness, community leaders and advocates are certainly candidates for the insights provided by the Case Studies and the Toolkit.