Boulder is Building a Culture of Meaningful Engagement

Boulder is building a culture of meaningful engagement that is inclusive, consistent and transparent for our community.

The City of Boulder recognizes that local government makes better decisions and creates more responsive programs and services when the community it serves has a meaningful voice.

Gathering public input at a large city event

Our Approach to Community Engagement

Our approach is driven by the city’s Engagement Strategic Framework, adopted in 2017 and created with community input. The framework includes the strategic objectives, best practices and methods, and a timeline for improving the culture of engagement in Boulder and the city’s processes for seeing community input.

Boulder's Six Strategies for Community Engagement Success

As the city works toward culture change, it has identified six strategies that will serve as focus areas:

Learn Together

Build skills and a shared understanding of core principles, practices and processes associated with high-quality community engagement.

Help People Know What to Expect

Implement consistent processes to support the creation and use of effective and appropriately scaled engagement plans. Communicate clearly about opportunities for timely and meaningful public input and engagement. Follow set meeting schedules as much as possible. Define roles.

Cultivate Relationships

Enhance existing relationships with those affected by city decisions and programs through positive and constructive dialogue. Pilot new approaches to invite and encourage all impacted individuals and groups to participate in ways that are welcoming and comfortable to them.

Be Transparent

Develop and implement techniques that increase transparency into decision-making and democratic processes. Help everyone understand constraints and the variety of perspectives on any given issues and explain how the feedback received shaped the outcome.

Use the Right Tools

Assess our current and existing engagement tools and techniques and choose those that most effectively allow us to reach desired audiences. Recognize the value of a mix of digital platforms, printed materials and in-person methods.

Evaluate and Evolve

Demonstrated a commitment to innovation and continuous improvement through honest evaluation of clearly defined metrics as well as ongoing creativity in the pursuit of new ideas. Make Boulder an international role model of meaningful participation.

Community outreach in Boulder

Community Connectors elevate underrepresented voices and build trust between community members and the City of Boulder government.

A Consistent Public Engagement Process

Consistency is a key element of the city's engagement and decision-making processes. Not every project the city undertakes requires the same level of public participation. Frankly, some issues are of more community interest than others. Occasionally, decisions are so constrained by financial, technical or legal limitations that it becomes more valuable to explain these than to seek the public's input.

To be clear about the level of engagement the city has identified for each project, Boulder has committed to considering four possible levels when designing future public participation opportunities: Inform, consult, involve and collaborate.

Details on Boulder's Decision-making Processes and Engagement Levels
Community input being gathered at public event

The City of Boulder uses a mix of in-person and online engagement to reach community members where they are for input.

Recognition for the City's Engagement Efforts

The City of Boulder was honored to be awarded Organization of the Year by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) USA as well as International Organization of the Year by IAP2 Federation in 2019. While the city is continuing on our journey in strengthening our culture of engagement, this recognition is a welcome nod that our efforts are headed in the right direction.

Boulder's Public Engagement Journey