The next step is to develop a set of objectives that must be accomplished, if you are to achieve informed consent. These are objectives for keeping your interests informed and involved, not project objectives. Remember "informed consent" does not mean agreement. It means your potentially effected interests are knowledgeable of the proposed actions and resulting impacts, and are willing to accept the best alternative. In other words they are willing to withhold their veto power. Informed consent is 5.1 on an agreement scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being total disagreement and 10 being total agreement. This is do-able!
Once you have identified the people and groups that need to be involved, you need to develop a schedule of key points where you will need their review and comments. Remember some interest may try to remain outside the process intentionally, so they can disrupt the process near the end. You must identify them and make sure your other groups and individuals are aware these persons have received all the information and special invitations to participate. It is now time to provide a schedule of proposed time frames when information and opportunities for discussion, are planned to occur. I know time frames are not always met, but adequate notification of changes and updates are very important. These initial steps in the public participation process is where the "Decision- Makers" credibility is established. I can not emphasize enough how important your personal participation in meeting with your interests is to the credibility you will need at the end of the process. I have found an advisory council from outside your organization can be very helpful in your public participation effort. Remember there is nothing that will derail your plans faster then surprises! KEEP EVERYONE UP-TO-DATE and INFORMED!
Stay tuned for the next session.