Justin B. Hollander’s Intelligent participation: engaging citizens through a framework of multiple intelligences (2012) makes a case for using different methods, or multiple intelligences, to enhance public participation and elicit input from more diverse subsets of the population. Numerous other professions are exploring using multiple intelligences to convey and process information. In this article, Hollander seeks to determine if these processes will successfully translate into the public participation process. Public participation can be classified in four ways: public hearings, in-person computer-assisted workshops, in-person charettes, and correspondence participation. Public hearings continue to be the most simple and popular means of public participation in my experiences in community planning activities. I never really considered that some people might not want/be able engage in this type of community involvement.
The government began to realize the importance of public participation in the 1950s. The government then started to require public participation in to federal and state laws. Sherry Arnstein soon noticed these laws and the public hearing they required lacked any real meaningful participation from citizens. Conventional participation processes did not meet the needs of the diverse learning styles of citizens. Public hearings do not provide the public with an opportunity to explore other dimensions of intelligence that might create a more effective public participation process. As Holland points out, we tend to treat the public a homogenous group of people instead a diverse group people with different learning styles.
It is important that continue to develop more creative ways to actually engage citizens in the planning process. Using multiple approaches to public participation will help increase the sense of engagement among citizens in the planning process. Intelligence participation recognizes that everyone learns differently and that planning should be focused on developing the best methods to enhance public participation methods for the people. This article made me realize that we cannot take a “one size fits all” approach view public participation if we want to really want public participation to mean something.