This guide helps users to understand both how to involve stakeholders in meaningful ways and how to avoid the pitfalls and abuses that can sink an effort. It recognizes that effective action in the public interest calls for a wide array of efforts to engage stakeholders in charting a course together. Where it works, more participatory planning and decision-making can produce better substantive ideas, useful problem-solving relationships and the trust needed to take action together. In the future, this will yield stronger community institutions, new possibilities for forging agreement across old divides as well as other tangible and intangible benefits. This tool helps to answer four questions that define effective participation strategies:
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