Oregon Consensus helps people reach agreement on public policy issues. By public policy, we mean the actions that governing bodies take, in the public interest, to address society’s needs or problems. Public policy often shapes how tax money and other resources will be used, and it may directly affect individuals, local communities or the entire state. Public policy is often documented in laws and regulations or formal government plans. Policy makers may include legislators, government agencies, city councils, county supervisors, school boards, public universities, as well as citizens who serve on advisory boards or commissions, and more. Examples of public policy issues that Oregon Consensus has helped with include:
- The Department of Environmental Quality needed to involve people in developing a plan to address air pollution in Portland.
- State trail users in central Oregon wanted rule changes to make the area safe for skiers, dog owners and snowmobilers.
- Construction of a new railroad crossing threatened access to a local business. Affected parties needed to agree on the best approach.
- Hispanic communities and advocates in Oregon had a goal of identifying and prioritizing community issues they wished to address with government agencies.
- A local neighborhood association disagreed with a government land-use decision allowing a development near the neighborhood. The association appealed the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) and needed OC’s LUBA mediation to resolve the issue.
Agreement seeking is often the best approach for identifying solutions to public policy issues. During agreement seeking, an Oregon Consensus neutral facilitator (sometimes called a mediator) works with the group to explore facts and viewpoints about an issue. Facilitators do not take sides or make any decisions for the group. They help participants work together effectively. They guide meetings to ensure balanced involvement by all participants. They support efforts to gather background information about the issues. They also help track decisions and create effective final reports or plans. The facilitator is integral to the group’s collaborative efforts inside and outside of meetings. She or he acts as a key resource to get the job done.
Finding the right match
For successful agreement seeking, the group needs to be able to trust, respect, and enjoy working with the facilitator. Oregon Consensus helps you select the right facilitator to match your situation. Our facilitator pool includes Oregon Consensus staff and our Affiliated Practitioner Team. All Oregon Consensus staff and affiliated practitioners create a balanced and fair process to help participants find common ground. They abide by professional standards and participate in formal evaluation of their work.