In March, our team brought together a diverse group of individuals and organizations deeply impacted by the public hearing process, with the ambitious yet crystal-clear goal of re-evaluating what's effective, what's not, and how we can revolutionize the public hearing process. This two-day virtual event, called the Innovators Forum, provided an effective platform for thought-provoking discussion and collective solutions-building within the community.
We would like to share with you here some key themes that emerged during the Innovators Forum and highlight a compelling newsletter post by one of our event attendees, Shagufta Pasta.
Key Themes and Findings
The Innovators Forum delved into a wide range of themes and findings that shed light on the complexities of the public hearing process and the urgent need for reform. These themes included:
A Culture of Care:
The forum emphasized the importance of nurturing a culture of care within public hearings, with a focus on empathy, support, and inclusivity.
Inaccessibility and Privacy:
Participants discussed concerns related to inaccessibility and privacy issues, advocating for more inclusive and confidential procedures.
Safety and Trauma-Informed Approaches:
Safety concerns and the necessity of trauma-informed approaches to support affected individuals were significant talking points.
The above provides just a glimpse of the event’s findings, but you can read the full Innovator’s Forum Report here.
Following her participation in the Innovator's Forum, Shagufta Pasta, Principal of Seriously Planning Consulting, shared these insights from her experience. Below is a snippet of what she had to say.
The best way to ensure equity excellence is talented diverse leadership and teams.
A few days ago I attended a dialogue held by the SFU “Renovate the Public Hearing Initiative” about renovating public hearings, and I admit, I was nervous going in. I don’t like break-out rooms. I don’t like being in conversation with strangers, and in discussions about planning and cities, I often am one of, if not the only Muslim in the discussion, which can feel exhausting. The exhaustion, and the high potential for harm translates into an experience that is not enjoyable, and so as a general rule, I try to avoid participation as much as I can.
The session I attended was the opposite. So much of this was because of the incredible Renovate the Public Hearing team, and in particular the leadership of Amina Yasin. The team created a day that felt pleasurable and energizing and filled with insights. Public hearings as an institution are broken, antagonistic and harmful, in contrast the session I attended was designed with tremendous community care and intentionality - from gift cards that arrived before the event even took place, to having lots of BIPOC folks on the Zoom call, to having people from different spheres of leadership and community participating, to having spacious break-out sessions and materials that arrived well in advance of the day of the event. Most importantly for me, I was not the only Muslim on the call, and I could sink into simply being myself and having my own experience.
By fostering strong dialogic practices, we create opportunities for more inclusive and equitable public spaces. We hope this paves the way for a brighter future in the realm of public hearings.