Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Community Forum or ‘For Us’? A few thoughts

Were the Lake County Community Forums worthwhile to attend? Depends on what you wanted to get out of them, or what you put into them.

I am a relatively new resident of northern Lake County, and have only recently begun to attend community meetings. I’ll admit that I don’t always know what to expect when I attend one.

The Forum provided an opportunity to meet the “neighbors”, meaning “those from nearby villages”. I also enjoyed hearing their concerns, within the tightly-controlled Forum environment.

Which leads me to another point: The Forum was run like a quiz show, with two questions around which attendees were to focus their feedback in a timed setting. Two highly leading questions, one beginning somewhere along the lines of “In 2015, Lake County is a great place to live because…..”

The intent clearly was to focus attendees to think positively and offer improvement suggestions rather than spend the time complaining about the way things currently are. However, the questions felt somewhat contrived.

Attendees were broken into small groups of 6-8, and a moderator from the consulting group hired by the county ran the feedback sessions. The moderator asked each person to write down their answers to the question, then sought input from each person and wrote the responses on a flip chart.

The format allowed moderators to control the meeting’s pace and wrap it up “on time” (somewhere before 9 p.m.). Nobody was allowed to dominate the sessions with endless commentary. Everything was kept neat, quick and tidy.

A survey was distributed at the end of the Forum, asking attendees what they’d learned about the County during the meeting. I feel that the county learned a good deal about residents’ visions of the future. But how much did residents learn about the County‘s vision?

[Check this blog tomorrow for “A Listener’s Perspective”, part 2 of this post]


Filed under: Urban Planning,

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