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PCI is sad to report the death of longtime colleague and friend, John Parr. John was killed in a car accident in Wyoming in December. John’s wife, Sandy, and older daughter, Chase, were also killed. His daughter Katy is recovering from injuries sustained in the accident.
John was a guiding light in the field of collaborative problem solving. From 1985 to 1995 John served as President of the National Civic League, an organization devoted to the improvement of political and governmental institutions and processes and community problem solving. Founded in 1894, the organization is best known for its work in state and local government and intergovernmental relations, including model city and county charters and sponsorship of the annual All-America City awards. Under his leadership NCL expanded its work to Eastern and Central Europe.
He was a co-founder of the Denver-based Center for Regional and Neighborhood Action (CNRA), which created Civic Results, a non-profit organization that assists governments, businesses, and nonprofit institutions collaboratively plan and implement initiatives that create measurable change in the physical, social, civic and human infrastructure of communities and regions. He also served as President/CEO of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, a national network of practitioners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors that are using metropolitan or rural regional approaches for community problem solving, until June 2006.
“There is no way to describe the pain of this terrible, terrible tragedy," Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said in a statement. "This is such a devastating loss for the entire community on so many levels. John and Sandy made untold contributions – small, large and every size in between – and touched untold lives. They were loved by so many people that you can feel the tears ripple across Colorado today. We will be in mourning for a very long time.”
"He went from being a crusader driven mainly by ideas to a guy whose life motive was to be constructive and helpful," former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm said. John began his long career of political involvement as a field organizer for Lamm’s gubernatorial campaign.
John attended PCI’s board meeting this past August and spoke to the board about the future of collaborative governance. The current and former PCI directors have sought John’s counsel for many years. John was helping PCI establish a public solutions program with the state of Colorado at the time of his death. PCI was lucky to be able to share this time with John and learn from him so recently. View John's comments on where he saw collaborative governance heading in the future.
"John Parr was a great friend and partner for PCI. He was a person we could always count on to offer sage and honest advice,” said PCI director Greg Wolf. “It was completely obvious that John’s motivation came entirely from a spirit of making society a better place to live.”
The Denver Foundation has established the John Parr and Sandy Widener Civic Leadership Award to recognize people exemplifying John and Sandy's commitment to and passion for improving the metro Denver community.
PCI has published a toolkit for state and local leaders on how to convene collaborative processes. Increasingly public leaders are being called on to bring together all sectors – public, private, and civic - to develop effective, lasting solutions to public problems that go beyond what any sector could achieve on its own.
This Toolkit for Leaders is a brief and highly readable guide for leaders interested in learning more about convening with instructions about:
The toolkit features a DVD with five minute interviews that illustrate how three leaders (Salt Lake City Mayor / former Representative Ralph Becker of Utah; Oregon Senator Betsy Johnson; and Maine Representative Chris Rector) convened groups to address issues of education and economic development, land use, and transportation.
PCI is continuing the make videos of leaders convening collaborative processes. The newest video, of PCI Board member and former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, will highlight the keys to convening.
The University Network for Collaborative Governance is a new organization for college and university centers and programs that engage in service and scholarship in order to enable citizens and their leaders to use collaborative practices to engage in dialogue, deliberation, and negotiation around public issues. The term collaborative governance encompasses a spectrum of concepts and practices for engaging citizens from across sectors in inclusive, deliberative, and often consensus-oriented approaches to planning, problem solving and policymaking. The Network will serve as a resource for program and professional development for university faculty and professionals engaged in this work.
On March 30th - April 1st, we will hold the initial meeting of the Network in Atlanta, Georgia. It will begin Sunday evening with a reception and opening session. Monday will be a full conference day and Tuesday morning we will focus on organizational issues -- adopt the Charter for the Network and establish priorities for Network activities. Please stay tuned for more information about conference logistics.
In 2005, after eight years of convening meetings for university centers, PCI brought leaders from nine universities together to talk about how their long term needs for sharing knowledge, information and best practices could be met. Substantial interest was expressed in forming a Network organization. Last year, the concept was presented to representatives from 28 universities who responded favorably to the idea of creating an organization. As an outgrowth of those meetings, PCI agreed to assist in organizing this effort.
The Goal is to promote and champion the role university centers play as neutral forums and resource centers for collaborative governance. It is also to assist these centers in enhancing their research, teaching, and service programs.
The Network will accomplish its objectives by organizing yearly educational conferences, developing and presenting print and electronic education materials, and otherwise building the capacity of university centers to:
The Network is an informal, unincorporated organization governed by a Steering Committee responsible for overall policy and direction. The Steering Committee is selected annually by voting representatives from member organizations. PCI will serve as Secretariat and Fiscal Agent for the Network, with responsibility for administrative tasks.
Membership is open to any college or university center, institute, or program that engages in teaching, research and public service in support of collaborative governance. Annual dues are based on a program’s total annual budget. If the budget is: $25,000 or less = $200; $200,000 or less = $500; $200,000 to $1,000,000 = $1,000; and $1,000,000 or more = $2500.
For more information about membership, and a Member Application Form, contact PCI.
NPCC and the Delaware Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security co-hosted a multi-state symposium on successful and innovative public safety collaborations in November. Both homeland security and emergency management fields urgently require innovative ways to work across jurisdictions and sectors. Elected leaders are now in the position to call for and support collaborative solutions to addressing those challenges.
15 participants from federal, state, and regional agencies presented on how their agencies have applied collaborative process to public safety problems. Participants considered how the use of collaborative processes can be increased and improved to support state efforts and developed recommendations for state leaders to use in collaborative processes, including ways to improve federal-state-local collaboration as well as private and civic sector collaboration through new governing methods.
One of the key challenges identified at the Symposium was that cooperation often slows you down and requires higher costs up front. At the same time, participants pointed to examples where partnering has led to lower costs for all parties involved. In Oregon, several groups, including the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Council, the Federal Integrated Wireless Network, the Coast Guard, and seven counties, among others, developed a partnership to replace a digital microwave system. The partnership effectively covered half the state and lowered the costs of a project that no group could have afforded to complete alone.
PCI board co-chair and Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner attended the symposium and spoke to the group about collaborative efforts in Delaware and in its region. In 1998, the governors of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia signed a declaration recognizing the Delmarva Emergency Task Force, a multi-state agency that assists in regional preparedness and planning for events that could jeopardize the health, safety, welfare and property of citizens on the Delmarva Peninsula. State, county and municipal emergency management personnel from all of Delaware, Maryland's nine Eastern Shore counties, and the two Virginia counties on the peninsula plan together for a coordinated regional response, including effective communications, resource sharing, shelter and evacuation strategies, and recovery plans. The recognition of the Task Force by all 3 governors has been crucial to its success in planning for regional emergency events.
Both Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security Secretary David Mitchell and California Office of Emergency Service Deputy Secretary Tina Curry discussed the importance of reaching out to state universities in planning for emergency events. The University of California Sacramento’s Center for Collaborative Policy has provided the California Office of Emergency Services and Office of Homeland Security with organizational and process design, facilitation, policy mediation, and strategic planning services and consulting.
Publication of a report is planned for this spring. For more information on the Symposium, or to share a case study of innovative collaboration around Homeland Security or Emergency Management in your state, contact Sarah Giles.
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