Community Engagement: Challenges & Tools from the Planner's Perspective
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Planning practitioners “plan” to improve the quality of life for people in the communities in which they live. To carry out this task effectively, we must work to engage the public in our plans and facilitate stakeholder participation in tailoring decisions to most appropriately address the needs of a given community. Though highly important, this component of the planning process seems to be one of the most challenging. Discussions surrounding engagement are simply incomplete. Little work has focused on the identification of the factors that make engagement difficult or ways to mitigate the generally negative sentiments that practitioners and community members alike have toward public outreach. This study seeks to highlight common challenges as identified by planners involved in community engagement in Atlanta and offer insights for the improvement of our methods and, consequently, the outcomes of our planning processes.