Participatory  Practices
Participatory is the essence of sustained relational harmony and excellent decisions in any social setting.  Participatory means that all those who have knowledge about making a good public or community choice are involved effectively and in ways that are comfortable for them.
Deepening participation to the voices that do not conventionally participate in group or community planning enriches the outcome immeasurably!  Practitioners of participatory processes talk about the soft voices, the ones who listen but are not often heard.
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Participatory Learning and Action.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is community-focused and community-based research to elucidate the essence of community life and interpret the potential impact of outside factors that might affect that quality of life.  
PAR supports local people or community members in articulating where and who they are, and where and who they might like to be.
Participatory action research is a wonderful vehicle for elucidating local culture and customary practice.  Participatory research validates the contemporary experience of local custom and sense of place. Culture arises from the landscape and the ways that people adapt to it.  See Trails Mediation Project.
Evaluation and
Action Research
Participatory action research (PAR) in environmental dispute resolution (EDR) empower locals with knowledge to pursue stable social outcomes despite disparity between stakeholders.  A CALATHUS project in EDR/PAR is described on our webpage for “sense of community” planning.
In resolving an environmental dispute, stakeholders understand that “conflict lies embedded in a system of relationships, needs, power exchanges, and historical dynamics” (Mayer, 2004:37).   In his recent book, Bernard Mayer of CDR Associates explains a conflict resolution approach that goes “beyond neutrality.”  Such an intervention relies on “a commitment to empowering disputants” with “...a focus on communication.”   PAR can level power imbalances by supporting “constructive conflict engagement” (Mayer, 2004:3).
Participatory conservation and development involves local peoples in choices about the future by encouraging inquiry into the impacts of those choices on cultural and natural resources.
PAR can deepen the quality of information transfer between administrators of natural resources and the people affected by public decision-making processes.  Strengthening the communication link between citizens and agency administrators in a range of informal ways is critical to enhancing natural resource policy.
Participatory Learning and Action
Participatory Conservation and Development
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) relies on is a highly tactile, visual approach to sharing knowledge between outside researchers or aid workers and a local community.  An iterative learning process occurs through the observation of a commonly reached understanding.  My first exposure to Participatory Learning and Action was in a newsletter published by the International Association for Public Participation (Sweetser, 1997).  Methodes d’Action et de Recherche Participative (MARP), the francophone equivalent
PLA Toolkit
Compare rather than Measure
Triangulate sources of evidence
Transect walks with locals as guides
Venn diagrams
Community mapping
House/yard mapping
Daily time use
Seasonal calendars
Timelines and trend/causal analysis
Flow diagrams
Matrix ranking
Community self-knowledge made    
    explicit clear in areas like:
  1.     Public health;
  2.     Ecological processes;
  3.     Water use; and,
  4.     Livelihood analysis.
Public participation encompasses a spectrum of public efforts to inform and involve the public in choice-making.  Meaningful public participation is not a rote exercise in which institutions simply seek approval for their activities.  Rather productivity and efficiency of public process are measured by the stability and adaptability of management decisions to public input.
Program evaluation and Fair Trade certification involves the participatory review by locals of factors that they consider important for peacebuilding, ecological integrity and sense of community (sociocultural integrity).
A Participatory
Participatory decisions do not necessarily require consensus.  Once a mutually held set of knowledge and information has been mixed into the pot through a co-learning process, community decision guidelines are customizable:  majority, consensus minus one or two, or sense of the meeting, or whatever works – as in child’s play.
“Participatory action research is ... carried out by a group of people on their own condition.  It is marked by guidance (wonderful Indonesian word) by a professional researcher (originally - in the 60s - often an anthropologist).  The researcher posed the questions - facilitated the inquiry - and the community did the spadework and worked out the answers.  Their research was assumed to lead to action (hence ‘action’ research) to modify their condition - to change it for the better.”    
(Brown, 2003)
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calathus Consulting offers workshops and coaching in participatory project management.  We can coach you in participatory implementation of an existing project or in planning for a new one.  You will benefit from customized services design based on an appreciative assessment of your project and organizational strengths.  We also team with other consultants to offer you an ideal mix of talent for the task at hand.Consulting.htmlOAAppreciative%20%20Inquiry.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0shapeimage_8_link_1
Participatory Project Management (PPM) draws upon the creative problem-solving capacity of all project members including clients.  In PPM, those “in the loop” share information widely.  This allows for transparent decision-making, stress relief and adaptive project development and implementation.   In a participatory project, everyone feels good about putting forth their best effort.  Hope is alive.  PPM creates trust and supports staff retention in order to ensure timely and high quality deliverables.  
Project Management
calathus Consulting offers workshops in PLA and PAR and the range of techniques that may apply to your project objectives.  We can lead the project or we can guide and assist you in reaching for the full meaning of what you have envisioned in your work with local people, a market, or the environment.Consulting.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0