Here’s an interesting “unsuccessful” case study – that has been turned into a useful learning experience – of dealing with vocal minority that dismantles a community engagement meeting and attempts to do it online as well but fails due to the filtering tools that are now available.
Dave Biggs, now Chief Engagement Officer of MetroQuest describes that he was on the public engagement team that was charged with conducting a series of community workshops throughout a metropolitan region to discuss a long range regional vision for land use and transportation. The first few workshops were held in urban areas and went smoothly. But, they weren’t aware what was brewing as they prepared for our 3rd workshop – this one in the suburbs.
The evening before the workshop a local group of people strongly opposed to the direction that the planning process seemed to be going met privately. They studied a manual on how to disrupt a public meeting and developed a strategy. With the project team blissfully unaware, this group of 40 or so arrived the next morning and positioned two of their members at each of the 20 tables set up around the room.
A mere 30-seconds into Dave’s introduction it started. One by one, members of this group started interjecting, some by raising their hands, others by shouting out. When one would say their piece, a cascade of approval spread around the room as other members of the group chimed in.