PLANNING GAMES AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
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Beever and Wagner Page 1 Session Number: 11 PLANNING GAMES AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION Lisa B. Beever, PhD, AICP, and Nancy Wagner, AICP Charlotte County-Punta Gorda Metropolitan Planning Organization 28000 Airport Road, A-6; Punta Gorda, Florida 33982 Tel. (941)639-4676; Fax (941)639-8153; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ABSTRACT In 1997, the Charlotte County-Punta Gorda Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) evaluated its 4-year history of public involvement programs. Although some of the techniques were cited by the Federal Highway Administration in a best practices publication, the evaluation concluded that only general issues were being identified. The evaluation recommended that the MPO survey for specific needs in the context of costs and available revenues. A game-like survey instrument was developed to survey for more specific and detailed information. The technique of incorporating simulation and gaming qualities into the process proved so successful that several more games were developed for different situations, including Strings and Ribbons, Group Grope (Thiagarajan, 1995), and Wheel of Needs. As a consequence, participation has increased, events are more fun for both the citizens and staff, complicated information is easily transferred between citizen and staff, and the diversity of participants has increased. The games allow for humor, fun, and positive interaction. They have been used to generate data for project selection criteria analysis, to develop a sidewalk and bikeway needs list, to improve short term (under 5 minute) interaction with citizens at shopping malls and Chamber of Commerce expos, and improve brainstorming/prioritization events. Beever and Wagner Page 1 PLANNING GAMES AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 and its successor, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA21) of 1998, set a policy direction of greater public participation for federal and state transportation decision-making. To achieve expanded input from the public-at-large, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) were given greater authority and responsibility to select surface transportation projects for funding. The best policy decisions are made in the context of public participation. Projects which have a broad, constant, and proven constituency are less likely to be stalled by short-term political changes. Projects which do not serve the public-at-large or have a fatal flaw from a community perspective cannot survive a well-designed public involvement process. With good reason, public input now is a requirement of most legislation that regulates planning programs. There are many opportunities for citizens to give their opinions regarding important decisions. With all these opportunities, professionals continue to complain about the low numbers of citizens who turn out to public meetings. Undoubtedly, there are more enjoyable activities than attending public meetings. The problem isn’t with the citizens but with typical meeting formats. Why would an average citizen come to a tedious public meeting where they have limited opportunity to participate? Public participation events must be both meaningful and pleasant. Citizens are investing their valuable time and resources to be at the event. This investment must be respected. If the citizens are bored, their time is not being used effectively and will result in less attendance at the next meeting. Simulation and games represent a method to achieve both meaningful and enjoyable public participation events. In Charlotte County, the idea of simulations and games has been a gold mine for creativity in preparing public participation events. The Charlotte County-Punta Gorda MPO Experience The Charlotte County-Punta Gorda MPO (MPO) in Florida was established in 1992 as a result of the 1990 census. As a post-ISTEA MPO, the MPO built its programs on public participation from the very beginning. In 1994, all of the documented neighborhood associations and most civic organizations were sent letters inviting them to send suggestions and offering speakers to discuss long range transportation plan issues. Ideas were documented from 20 various organizations. A Transportation Fair was conducted at the local mall, which included surveys (n>400), balloons, facilitated discussion groups, and prizes. Prizes were donated from area businesses and included such items as bicycle helmets, water bottles, lube jobs, etc. Annual “Transportation Galas” were conducted at different venues; one included multi-modal refreshments such as multi-modal key lime tarts, landscaping (fresh vegetables), “hub”-cakes, bicycle wheels (cookies), driver-alert coffee, and designated-driver punch. A random-sample survey of register voters (n>400) in 1995 confirmed the importance of increased maintenance, hurricane evacuation, sidewalks/bikeways, and public transit over simple road capacity projects. Project needs and project selection policies were developed and weighted directly from these public participation efforts. These new policies represented a change in earlier priorities which focused on investing in simple road-widening. The public participation program and the resulting policies led to various awards from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Association of MPOs (AMPO), and the Florida Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Beever and Wagner Page 2 (FLITE). In 1997, the MPO evaluated its 4-year history of public involvement programs. Although the public involvement program was a model, the evaluation concluded that only general issues were being identified. The MPO had adopted multiple-objective project selection criteria, so that projects which met most of the community values with the least cost were funded. From the public involvement program, however, there was no way to tell if all hurricane evaluation projects should be completed before any sidewalk construction began. The MPO assumed that this was not the case, but could not confirm that multiple-objective criteria was the public will. Accordingly, the internal evaluation recommended to survey for specific needs in the context of costs and available revenues. A more game-like survey instrument was developed to survey for more specific and complicated information. The technique of incorporating simulation and gaming qualities into the process proved so successful that several more simulations and games were developed for different situations. As a consequence, participation has increased; events are more fun for both the citizens and staff; complicated information is transferred between citizen and staff more readily; and the diversity of participants has increased. Concurrently with implementation of simulations and games in the public involvement process, the existing field of simulation and gaming was evaluated. Gaming and Simulation Resources The professional organizations representing this field are the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA), Association for Business Simulation and Experiential Learning (ABSEL), the International Simulation and Gaming Association (ISAGA), and the Japan Association of Simulation and Gaming (JASAG). The official journal of these organizations is Simulation and Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory, Practice, and Research. Many of NASGA’s resources and links to other sites can be found at www.nasaga.org. Currently, NASAGA’s membership is primarily involved with teaching and business training. According to their web-site (March 3, 2000), one of the aims of NASAGA is to “use games with joy and serious purpose” to improve group relations and shared decision-making. Clearly, the use of games and simulation in public participation is consistent with NASAGA’s mission. HRD Press sells publications regarding human resource development. Because games are used for business training, HRD press catalogs include a section on games. Many of these games can be utilized directly for public participation purposes. They can be contacted at www.hrdpress.com, or 1-800-822-2801. The MPO found “frame games” particularly valuable in its public participation efforts. “A frame game is a generic game shell or a template. It allows you to plug in new content and create a new game- instantly.” (Thiagarajan 1995) A major benefit is that the frame games are already field-tested and complete. They provide inspiration for new uses of games in public participation. Simulations and games have been used in pedagogy and to mimic urban systems, since the late 1960's (Dorn 1989 and Nikkel 1976). Torres and Macedo (2000) designed a card game to explain sustainable development, which may have relevance with linking land use and transportation concepts. The simulation exercises for land-use planning as well as the visual preference surveys that are outlined use game-like components in public participation (The Center for Livable Communities 1997). Beever and Wagner Page 3 In the fields of law enforcement and criminal justice, games have been used widely to train officers, teach negotiation skills, and provide no-risk life simulation experiences. It is possible to conduct games that convey knowledge and understanding of diffuse and long-term social issues such as local drug policy (Kahan et. al. 1996), condense time and evaluate long-term results (Post and Tally 1974), and measure skills (McKenzie 1981). The “Security ” simulation game kit includes an instruction book, playing board, die, fake money, and score sheets. Participants are given the “opportunity to condense many years of security and loss prevention management experience into a short period of playing time” (Post and Tally 1974). The “Collision” simulation game simulates the scene of an accident. Information that normally would be obtained through observation and interviewing is placed on a series of data cards. Participants worked in pairs and kept a record of how they conducted the investigation. Through the simulation experience participants had the opportunity to select reports to document the incident and practiced submitting forms and making a determination if a law had been broken in a group. Dorn (1989) conducted a review that may be considered the paradigm for pedagogical simulation games. He listed goals, learning theory constructs, and effectiveness of simulation games that may be applied directly from the classroom to public involvement events. In applying principals from the classroom to the public, citizens/participants assume the role of student and agency officials accept the teacher role. Goals of teaching and learning which also apply to public participation include enhancing cooperation and communication between participants, promoting a more relaxed and friendly climate, increasing trust and interaction between participants and agency officials, and reducing situations of boredom and conflict. Learning theory which also applies to public participation includes encouraging different and multiple ways of looking at events and finding answers, enhancing learning by using real rather than vicarious experience and by participating in decisions whose consequences the participants share. Benefits of simulation games include high levels of interest and motivation, more positive attitudes, more tolerance for ambiguity and less dogmatic approach, reduction of racial barriers to participant interaction and improved relations among participants of different social and ethnic backgrounds, and perception among participants that agency officials are interested in them as persons. Dorn (1989) also lists potential disadvantages such as over-simplification of issues, views of “reality” on which the game is based may vary, and erroneous assumptions within games. What makes a simulation or game? According to Dorn (1989), “a game is any contest or play among adversaries or players operating under constraints or rules for an objective or goal. A simulation is an operating representation of central features of reality. A simulation game is an exercise that has the basic characteristics of both games and simulations. Consequently, simulation games are activities undertaken by players whose actions are constrained by a set of explicit rules particular to that game and by a predetermined end point. The elements of the game constitute a more or less accurate representation or model of some external reality with which players interact by playing roles in much the same way as they would interact with reality itself .” Planning games tend to follow the 4 R’s- rules, resources, results, and rewards. Game rules allow staff to communicate the rules that the MPO must live by in a manner that is interesting to citizens. Since the participants have a stake in learning the rules to play the game, attention spans lengthen and more complicated information can be disseminated and remembered. Beever and Wagner Page 4 Figure 2- Close-up of “Strings and Ribbons” map shows funding flexed from roads to sidewalks, trails, landscaping and public transportation. Resources are the materials that are required to play the game. Colorful game boards, game pieces, cards, and other tactile objects are appealing to citizens. Often games begin by giving citizens the game pieces which allows for an initial cordial interaction. Results come from playing the games. Games allow more specific and complex results as a simple function of playing. Rules provide information to the participant, whereas results of the game provide information to the agency. Methods to incorporate results into the decision-making process can be as varied as the games themselves. Rewards are usually part of any game and they are usually in the form of winning the game. Some games, such as Learning Sustainable Development (LSD) (Torres and Macedo 2000) and Wheel of Needs include a winner. In public participation, everyone is a winner because personal priorities become part of the decision-making process. It is always wise to pretest a game before the major public participation event. Neighborhood or civic organization meetings that are already taking place are appropriate for pretesting a game. In addition, simulation and gaming literature emphasizes a debriefing period after a game is played. The MPO debriefing usually involved discussion regarding what was learned and achieved. In public participation events, a discussion regarding how the information will be used emphasizes the importance of the event and the participants’ dedication of time. Beever and Wagner Page 5 Games and Uses Many simulations and games have been developed for use by the MPO and others in public transportation. This paper outlines basic instructions for some of the most useful games, including “Strings and Ribbons,” Project Selection Survey,” “Color Dot Survey,” “Group Grope,” and “Wheel of Needs.” Strings and Ribbons Instructions Strings and Ribbons was designed by Dr. Lisa Beever and was inspired by classic board games. It is used in transportation planning programs and can result in a multi-year capital improvement program. The clever aspect is it teaches citizens about funding flexibility, funding constraints, priorities, and community consensus. With the availability of geographic information system maps, the game is economical and exciting. Comradery, humor, and serious thought about the future of transportation have resulted every time the game has been played. Strings and Ribbons can easily be played at public workshops, with focus groups, and at committee or neighborhood meetings (See Figures 1 and 2). These contexts have all been successful. Other contexts proved to be more difficult. The annual Transportation Gala and “Government Day in the Mall” held too much competition for the time and attention of citizens. Because of the short time frames for citizen interaction, Strings and Ribbons has been dropped from mall events and other games added. However, a walk-by approach used in conjunction with the Project Selection Survey proved effective for garnering public input at the Senior Olympics Half-time Extravaganza - an event held at the auditorium, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. In the walk-by version, a Strings and Ribbons map is set out on display. People who walk by the display are invited to add their game pieces to a game in progress. They are given one piece of ribbon that represents road funding for one year. They can use this ribbon to expand an existing road or build a new road, or they can trade for an equal dollar amount of buses (including operating expense), sidewalks, bikeways, trails, interstate interchanges, traffic signals, landscaping, or other transportation project ideas. Although this iteration of the game is not as conducive to team interaction and group discussion, it is nevertheless a medium for participants to express their opinion. At the Senior Olympics Half-time Extravaganza many people chose to trade for alternatives which were not originally offered such as landscaping. Once an alternative such as landscaping was conceived by one participant, others who later played had a tendency to trade some of their road improvement money (ribbon) to complete the initiated project. Strings and Ribbons is generally regarded as a treat by citizens who attend normal neighborhood, community, organization, or committee meetings. Because of the particular Figure 1- Groups playing “Stings and Ribbons” at success of this game in the small meeting joint Sarasota/Manatee MPO and Charlotte County- context, the Long Range Transportation Plan Punta Gorda MPO meeting. Beever and Wagner Page 6 (LRTP) update cycle featured “Strings and Ribbons on the Road” as a component of public involvement. Neighborhood and civic associations were offered the game at normal meetings. The resources needed to play the game are easily available to transportation planning agencies. Necessary materials include one map for each group, a length of ribbon representing one year of funding for roads (based on the map scale), a length of string representing one year of funding for sidewalks (based on the map scale), several paper cutouts of buses, several paper cutouts of other transportation projects that may be considered, extra paper and markers to create other transportation projects that come up during play (i.e. strips of green paper that represent landscaping, traffic signals, highway interchanges), a report that outlines generalized costs for various types of transportation projects, several pairs of scissors, glue, and paper towels. Strings and Ribbons can be played with as few as 3 participants and with as many groups of 5 or 6 as there are facilitators. Tables are arranged to accommodate 5 or 6 people each. Tables should have some distance from one another for comfort. The game flows most smoothly if there is a facilitator for each table. Each table has a map, 2 or 3 pairs of scissors, and 1 or 2 bottles of glue. Three distinct sets of rules are explained to the participants. The first set of rules describes the normal funding allocations and how the dollars are normally spent. It is the analogy of “dealing the cards” and is in effect “the cards we’re dealt” as a community. The second set of rules discusses funding flexibility under TEA21. Each participant can trade, dollar for dollar, for alternative transportation improvements. The third set of rules has each group build a cost feasible map for a 5 to 20 year time frame (related to the amount each is given at the start) and requires the participants of each group to build a level of consensus because of funding constraints. 1. Allocations Each participant receives a representation of the normal (or average) funding allocations and the normal way funding is spent in the jurisdiction. In Charlotte County, Surface Transportation Program (STP) Enhancement funding is spent (by policy) on sidewalks while other STP and state funds are spent on road capacity. Charlotte County does not currently have a public transportation system for the general public. Otherwise, little buses would be also distributed, representing Federal Transit Administration Section 5307 funds. Red ribbons represent two additional road lanes (and associated sidewalks) and red strings represent sidewalks. Each participant receives 1 to 5 years of road capacity funding and 1 to 5 years of sidewalk funding, depending on whether the end result is to be roughly a 5-year plan or a 20-year plan. 2. Funding Flexibility Each participant can trade pieces of their strings and ribbons for other transportation improvements. Anticipated improvements can be prepared ahead of time. For example, little paper bus and train depot cutouts were available. Each bus was the capital and operating costs for 10 years and was the equivalent of 1/4 inch of ribbon in cost. Participants could trade one inch of ribbon (road) for 4 inches of string (sidewalk). Unanticipated improvements included interstate interchanges, traffic signals, and landscaping. The facilitator improvised the trade by creating a paper cutout and estimated the trade value. Nearly every group that has played included alternative transportation modes at the expense of road capacity. 3. Cost Feasible Map When all the participants have explored their trade alternatives (and, in fact, have made most of their trades), participants begin placing their improvements on Beever and Wagner Page 7 the GIS map. In the case of buses, they are asked to put the buses on the road or area they want service. Because most road capacity projects require multiple years of funding, advocates must convince other participants to contribute funding. Every group who has played has gone through a consensus building exercise at this stage to build the cost feasible map. Strings and Strings was created to build a Sidewalk, Bikeways, and Trails needs plan. Strings and Strings has been played with advisory committees and clubs. In one game, each participant was given as much red (sidewalk), blue (bicycle lane), and yellow (trail) string as they wanted. The labor of gluing string to the map was a disincentive to placing facilities on every road right-of-way and easement. The exercise resulted in a thorough needs plan that other lists focusing on the most important of needs did not provide, yet excluded projects of little merit which were previously included in broad policy statements. In other games, red (sidewalk) strings were distributed based on enhancement funding and participants traded for blue (bicycle lane) and yellow (trail). Project Selection Survey Instructions The Project Selection Survey, designed by Dr. Lisa Beever, was the MPO’s first use of simulations and games. This simulation game survey was created to allow each respondent to create their own cost feasible plan. In the past, survey responses were very general, listing issues such as hurricane evacuation, maintenance, and public transportation rather than specific projects. The general approach was useful in developing policies for the MPO, County and City, and was used to develop project selection criteria. However, the early surveys did not provide recommendations concerning specific needs in the context of costs and available revenues (Beever 1998). To meet this challenge, a survey instrument was developed that offered a simulation of the 20-year needs assessment and a mechanism to select projects for funding. One side of the survey had demographic information, an opportunity to add to the needs list, and return address/stamp (See Figure 3). The other side had the statement “You have $200 million dollars to spend in the next 20 years. Which projects would you build with your $200 million dollars?” If there was an entire category (e.g. maintenance) they wanted funded, participants were instructed to circle the subtotal amount (See Figure 4). Projects from the needs plan were grouped by category: maintenance, hurricane evacuation, sidewalk/bikeways, transit, Figure 3- The flip side of the tri-fold survey included demographic congestion management, bridges, questions, mailer, and title. Beever and Wagner Page 8 new & expanded roads, and miscellaneous. Each individual project was listed by category with its cost (in millions). A postage paid survey was distributed to 2403 randomly selected registered voters, along with a postage-paid return card identifying that the voter had responded. The return of the card ensured the anonymity of the respondents. A follow up survey was sent to the sample voters who had not returned the card. The overall return rate was 40%. Although the survey had only 10 questions, several issues could be evaluated. Findings included a review of demographics, cost feasibility, general project categories, project selection, and an analysis of adopted project selection criteria. Single criteria that had a statistical significant relationship with the survey requests included the safety management system, public transportation, environmental protection, and continuity of programming. The high correlation with continuity of programming indicated that respondents had a level of approval with existing transportation funding decisions. However, results were used to modify the project selection criteria for a greater level of correlation between adopted project selection criteria and survey results. Figure 4- The 1998 Project Selection Survey was distributed to over 2400 randomly-selected register voters. Results formed the basis to the MPO adopted project selection criteria. Beever and Wagner Page 9 Color Dots Survey Instructions The Color Dots Survey was developed by Louise Fragala of Powell, Fragala & Associates, Inc. It assisted the Sarasota-Manatee MPO to rank citizens priorities as part of the Community Impact Assessment (CIA). Fragala developed the Color Dots Survey as a variation of the Nominal Group Technique process (Fragala 1998), which encourages individual input while at the same time emphasis is placed on group decision- Figure 5- Citizens playing Dits ‘n Dots at the mall. making. The resources needed to play the game are easily available to transportation planning agencies. Necessary materials include flip chart, markers and various color ½ - inch dots. The process for the Color Dots Survey includes: 1. Issues Each person independently writes various community values to be addressed on a sheet of paper; 2. Game Construction These values are each recorded on a 24 x 36 inch chart. As each value is written, the group discusses and defines it; 3. Play Each participant is given a series of color dots, each color assigned a rank value. (e.g. green high priority, blue medium high priority, yellow medium priority, and red low priority) Participants are asked to rank the previously identified values by placing the color dots beside each desired statement to show their level of importance for each value. Ideas not receiving dots wouldn’t rank as top priorities. Likewise, issues receiving the most dots with the most intense color value shows the highest group support. Sarasota/Manatee MPO found that the physical activity of placing the dots encouraged participation and discussion among the participants. The number of colors used and the methods of generating ideas may vary according to the purpose of the game. The MPO used a variation of this game called Dits ‘n Dots at “Government Day in the Mall” on August 26, 2000 (See Figure 5). This variation drops all but the last step to increase the speed of the game. Group Grope Instructions Group Grope represents one of the many frame games designed by Sivasailam Thiagarajan (1995). In June 1999, the Charlotte County Transit Marketing Work Group recommended using a random sample survey and focus group meetings to determine customer preferences for the new Beever and Wagner Page 10 Dial-a-Ride public transit service. The focus groups discussed issues and generated ideas to identify customer concerns, needs, wants, and expectations. Group Grope was used to facilitate the focus group meetings (See Figure 6). The resources needed to play the game are easily available to all transportation planning agencies. Materials included name tags, blank 3 x 5 cards (5 per participant for each question), questions, pencils, initial set of 3 x 5 cards (with possible alternatives in answer to each question), black markers, rubber bands, several sheets of 8 x 11 ½ paper with empty bus outline, color pencils, color markers, and crayons. In this case, the questions included: 1: What services are most important to you? For example, friendly drivers, courteous staff, week-end service, right temperature, on-time service, priority service for the physically challenged, etc. 2: What bus design features are most important to you? For example, comfortable seats, special bus layout or equipment for the physically challenged, bike racks on buses, storage for carry on items, etc. 3: Can you suggest a name for the bus system? 4: What ideas can you contribute for a logo, theme, or mascot? Figure 6- This table of citizens is playing “Group Grope” 5: What color or colors appeal to you? to outline issues regarding the new public transportation Describe the use of colors, system. advertisement(s), or pictures (logo, theme, mascot, scenes, art work) on the bus. The instructions for the focus group event were: 1. Groups The participants were divided into smaller groups of 4 to 8 participants by assigning tables according to the colored name tags. Each group was assigned a facilitator to keep them on task, and to encourage everyone to participate. 2. Getting Started Prior to the start of the game, staff presented a brief power point presentation that showed examples of the bus service the County currently provided in the Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) program as well as examples of bus service in other cities and counties. This activity set the stage for the rest of the workshop. 3. Allocations Each participant was given a pencil and five 3 x 5 cards. 4. Card Writing by Players The facilitator directed each participant to use all five cards, giving one idea per card for the first question. Each question required a separate set of 5 cards to answer the question. Once the answers were written, the facilitator collected the cards for that question. 5. Initial Set of Cards Prior to the workshop, staff prepared a set of suggestion cards for each question. The suggestion cards contained answers given in the Random Sample Dial-a- Beever and Wagner Page 11 Ride Marketing Survey, as well as known TD program priorities and suggestions from other county and city bus services. Thiagarajan (1995) suggests 2 cards be prepared for each anticipated player for each question. Information may be duplicated. 6. Distributing the Cards After 3 minutes, the facilitator collected the suggestion cards from the players, adding in the required extras from the initial set of cards. The facilitator shuffled the deck of cards and dealt back three cards to each player. 7. Exchanging Cards The facilitator arranged the remaining suggestion cards face up on the table in full view of the participants. The participants then looked at the cards in their hand and had the opportunity to exchange cards from their hand for better ideas laying face up on the table. They were instructed to obtain the best 3 ideas for their hand. Participants could pick up cards discarded by others. When all were satisfied that they held the best possible combination, the facilitator removed the remaining cards. 8. Swapping Cards The facilitator asked participants to show each other their cards, and by consensus, the participants chose the best three cards as the group answer to question 1. When groups objected to the limitation of three cards, they could add another one or two to their answer. 9. Moving on to the Next Question The facilitator placed the chosen cards into a stack, and labeled them with the black marker to show the group color and question number. The stacks were set aside to be collected at the end of the game, and the group moved on to the next question. 10. Special Instructions for Question 5 Florida Department of Transportation staff introduced a visual preference display using photographs, contest entries, and magazine advertisements showing examples of existing bus system colors, themes, and logos. The group could arrive at a recommendation by using Group Grope or by making a selection Figure 7- Visual preference surveys are incorporated into from the visual preference survey. the process. They were invited to draw their ideas using the bus outline, crayons, markers, and color pencils provided at each table (See Figure 7). 11. Rewards In the debriefing, everyone was congratulated, results were summarized, and staff explained how results would be used to plan and implement the new bus system. The game showed that most participants liked the name Dial-a-Ride. They preferred blue or pastel stripes on predominantly white buses with a tropical theme. A color titled “aqua fantasy” was selected. The entire program took approximately 1 and ½ hours to complete. Group Grope has been used in other venues to replace scribing ideas on an easel pad. The game is quicker because individuals are concurrently writing ideas. Other benefits include greater Beever and Wagner Page 12 ownership of ideas, ability to quickly consolidate high ranked ideas, and inability for participants to be passive. Wheel of Needs Instructions Wheel of Needs is a game that was developed by the MPO Citizen Advisory Committee Chairman, Rocco DeGiorgio (See Figure 8). It was used at the 1999 “Government Day in the Mall”, an annual County event that showcases county departments by providing staff and displays to answer citizen questions concerning Figure 8- Citizen Advisory Committee Chairman Rocco DeGiorgio with his creation, “The Wheel of Needs”. county government. Chairman DeGiorgio observed the need to have an event that was loud and colorful to attract participants to the booth. Wheel of Needs is similar to a wheel of chance at a carnival. However the wheel displays colorful wedges that are lined with velcro strips and faced with LRTP transportation projects. Projects that did not fit on wheel were displayed face up on the table surrounding the wheel. Citizens were asked to review the improvements listed on the wheel and on the table, and to select their favorite project. If they chose an improvement from the table the participant removed one from wheel, and the new selection was placed on the wheel. Staff recorded the selection and the participant spun the wheel. If the wheel indicator stopped on their project they won a big prize. Staff collected over $500 worth of prize donations (i.e., $100 cable tv service gift certificates, a hand embroidered quilt, two trips to a tanning salon, hats, shirts, and a gym bag) that were given out to citizens that day. If the selected project did not end up at the top of the wheel, the participant received a lesser prize (i.e. pencil, key chain, or magnet). The wheel proved to be a successful device to involve citizens who did not want to commit much time from their day. Over 200 citizens participated. The most popular projects were school sidewalks, followed by bike lanes, and in third place Dial-a-Ride public transit. How Games can fit in to Traditional Public Participation Events Developing games for traditional events have led to an emergence of participation creativity in Florida. After the original games were developed in 1997 to address a specific problem, new games have been developed by others involved with transportation. The use of games in public participation has expanded since then. Strings and Ribbons was used to teach concepts of funding flexibility and cost restraint while obtaining specific project priorities. The Citizen Advisory Committee Chairman designed and built the Wheel of Needs for use at fairs and expositions in 1999, and the Sarasota-Manatee MPO implemented the first game tailored for use Beever and Wagner Page 13 with citizen advisory committees in 2000. Also in 2000, the Tampa Bay traffic model users group used colored dots and cylinders made of various colors of poster board to organize concurrent presentations at a meeting. The following details useful games the authors recommend for traditional public involvement events. Random Sample Surveys can be made into simulation games or puzzles. The MPO’s project selection survey allowed respondents to complete their own cost-feasible plans from the adopted needs assessment. The game quality of the survey allowed the MPO to survey for very specific information and receive an acceptable response rate of nearly 40%. Revenues and costs were shown in millions to make the math easier for the citizens. Representing the costs in millions gave the exercise a Monopoly quality related to money. Brainstorming/facilitation events can be assisted with traditional business training games. The MPO has used Group Grope and another frame game called Envelopes (Thiagarajan 1995) in the place of traditional easel and scribe brainstorming. Meetings can generate more interesting and gather more inclusive participation by using icebreakers and Strings and Ribbons. The name tags that the MPO used for the focus group meetings organized the group and gave participants a sense of belonging to the group by using a theme. For example, at one focus group meeting, the MPO designed a “bus” name tag. Fairs and Expositions that offer limited time commitment from participants are best served by swift, but meaningful games, such as Wheel of Needs, walk-by Strings and Ribbons, and Dits ‘n Dots. Thiagarajan (1997) detailed instructions for using crossword puzzles at expositions, available at www.thiagi.com. Newsletters can include puzzles to provide an interactive feature to convey information such as professional terms, names, key ideas, and other policy aspects of the organization. Software is now readily available to prepare crossword puzzles and other games built on transportation planning words and concepts. Citizens Advisory Committee Color Dots has been used to rank issues and community values. Strings and Ribbons can make the meeting more informative by giving a “hands on” opportunity for citizens to participate in generating ideas and priorities. The game can be used to convey the rules and funding limitations of the organization, and the application of these restrictions to specific projects or programs. Internet can provide information and the opportunity for citizens to interact on-line. Computer software frame games (Thiagi and Thiagi 1997) are available to build computer based games which can be loaded on a web-site. E-mail games are low cost, low technology games based on the written word. They can be easily added to websites. Instructions of how to construct an e-mail game and examples are available at www.thiagi.com. Response The use of simulations and games in public participation has generally resulted in a broader cross-section of participation. Demographic groups which are more likely to participate at general public events include children, adolescents, minorities, and disabled. Other-wise apathetic citizens are more likely to participate. Reluctant citizens are often cajoled by friends or relatives to join the game. One-hundred percent participation at meetings is more likely to occur. Possessing an entertaining yet meaningful activity led to invitations to groups which were Beever and Wagner Page 14 otherwise closed. The Chamber of Commerce invited the MPO to conduct Strings and Ribbons at a Junior Leadership Charlotte event. No documented impact on random sample survey response rates have been documented. In Charlotte County, survey response rates hover around 40%. However, a game format allowed for more complex questions and responses. In addition, complex information regarding federal law, funding allocations, and the LRTP was conveyed as a by-product. Some elected officials have been excited about the games while others have trivialized their use. The various responses of elected officials appear to be more related to enthusiasm about public participation generally rather than the use of games specifically. Although not witnessed by the MPO, illiterate citizens could have problems with Group Grope and Color Dots. Intelligent facilitation could overcome this potential problem. On the other hand, graphic games such as Strings and Ribbons can be played by illiterate as well as graphically minded citizens. Conclusion Games successfully elicit public opinion without setting up an adversarial dialectic between public groups and agencies. The use of games in public participation increases the amount of public contact in total and can increase disenfranchised group participation. As in the classroom setting, benefits include increased trust and interaction between participants and agency officials, enhanced cooperation and communication, a more relaxed and friendly climate, different and multiple ways of looking at events and finding answers, reduced situations of boredom and conflict, and developed high levels of interest and motivation, more positive attitudes, and more tolerance for ambiguity. The MPO has used games to generate data for project selection criteria analysis, to develop a sidewalk and bikeway needs list, to improve short term (under 5 minute) interaction with citizens at shopping malls and Chamber of Commerce expos, and improve brainstorming/prioritization events. Additional games need to be developed to enhance public participation nation-wide. Recommendation for these new games include rules that are honest and reflect the real-world rules of transportation decision-making, a limited playing time requirement (ranging from 5 minutes to 1½ hours), the use of color and textures that are appealing, and a sense of control by every participant. Different games should be developed for different public involvement objectives. They should also be responsive to participant-initiated changes in the game, adapting the game at the time the game is played. Participants should feel that the effort to play the various games were worth their time. The authors are compiling a lexicon of games suitable for public participation. They request that any such games be sent them. Acknowledgments Federal Highway Administration and the State of Florida funded this work through metropolitan planning funds and state soft match. James W. Beever III and Roger Green, PhD, provided editorial review and suggestions. 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