"Though they were invisible to the public, the (clinicas created by Engaged Public) were hives of serious activity and the level of discussion was high."

Ray Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post A&E Critic

Client Success Story

Biennial of the Americas

picture of stethoscope

Background

From July 16-Sep. 2, 2013, Denver hosted the Biennial of the Americas, an international festival of ideas, art, and culture covering the dynamic world region that stretches from Canada to Chile. First envisioned by then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in 2010, the Biennial provides a nonpartisan platform for leaders in business, government, civil society, and the arts to convene and examine the significant issues impacting life in the Americas.

The 2013 event called for nine “clínicas” to explore broad policy areas around the theme of "Unleashing Human Potential: Reinventing Communities, Business, and Education." These conversations, which took place July 17, 18 and 19, brought together leading experts and thought leaders from around the world.

Challenge

Engaged Public was hired to design and facilitate nine, three-hour, invitation-only workshops - clinicas - to successfully bring together a diverse group of leaders and specialists in their fields from across the Americas to learn and share innovative ideas that could improve quality of life. The clínicas format also required the accommodation of three workshops happening simultaneously, a highly intercultural group, and translation to Spanish and Portuguese.

Solution

Engaged Public framed the chosen universal hot topics to inspire dialogue and ideas. Clínica topics centered on building communities, improving health and sanitation, conserving natural resources, invigorating the business environment, and reinventing education. Engaged Public facilitated the gatherings to ensure everyone learned something new, had an opportunity to speak, and connected with fellow participants.

Methods of engagement included large and small group discussions, affinity diagrams, and an audience response system that enabled anonymous answering of questions and instant responses for everyone to see.

The agenda ensured the generation of action-oriented ideas and opportunities to stay connected after the workshops. Each evening, the general public was invited to symposia where the clinica results, presented by government, community and business leaders, helped feed the conversation. Finally, Engaged Public created and distributed a set of nine briefing documents - one for each group discussion - featuring detailed summaries, photos, graphics, and illustrations to serve as a highly informative takeaway from the event.

Results

The goal of the 2013 Biennial of the Americas was to connect the best thinkers around some of the thorniest issues in the Americas and work toward solutions and action. While the Biennial’s 2013 evening symposia attracted broad attention with marquee names like Tina Brown (Daily Beast, Newsweek) and Eric Schmidt (Google), it was the clínicas that were lauded for their depth of discourse and collaborative environments.

Described by event chair Michael Fries and others as the "heart" and the "backbone" of the Biennial of the Americas, the clinicas resulted in specific points of agreement for each session. Examples included:

  • Walkable, bike-friendly communities are one feasible solution for improving public health.
  • The public's lack of knowledge and engagement is a challenge to the development of a safe, sustainable water supply.
  • Energy consumption is an emotional issue so solutions must include a combination of technologies and shared values.
  • Metrics used to measure innovation must be redefined to more accurately identify true innovation and creativity.
  • Businesses must align their social and business goals from the beginning.

Clinica Engagement by the Numbers

  • 70: Percentage of clinica respondents who gained a broader understanding of the issues.
  • 9: Number of clinicas designed and managed.
  • 60: Percentage of the "Unleashing Human Potential" symposia audience who were female.
  • 34: Percentage of "Doing Well by Doing Good" participants who ranked "creating solutions that are profitable and have social benefit" as a key idea.
  • 92: Percentage of clinica respondents who are interested in participating in future Biennial of the Americas events.

Engaged Public: Capabilities and Expertise

The Engaged Public team brings a specific and unique set of skills to the table that help make public engagement campaigns a success, including:

  • Comprehensive leadership
  • Impeccable understanding of the policy environment
  • Negotiation, consensus and relationship-building skills
  • Conversation architecture creation, logistics, and group facilitation
  • Transparency to ensure integrity of process
  • Research, report writing, policy analysis and content production
  • Public relations and media relations support
  • Innovative methodology utilizing technology tools, including:
  • Rapid response, flexibility and adaptability to change process to meet changing results
  • Synthesis of old tools (written analysis) with new tools (keypad polling, budget simulation)
  • Political "savvy" to develop implementable recommendations
  • Ability to facilitate ideologically diverse viewpoints and opinions for any organization, event or community
  • Responsiveness to parties whose views may or may not carry the day
  • Delivery of meaningful, actionable policy recommendations
  • Willingness to go the extra step and work harder, even outside original template