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Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons Overview

In 2009, the city of Seattle initiated the Planning/Public Outreach Liaison (POL) Program. Modeled after the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Trusted Advocates and fueled by the city's commitment to race and social justice, the POL program addressed a desire for meaningful inclusion of historically-underrepresented communities in Neighborhood Planning. This innovative outreach model led to thousands of engaged Seattle stakeholders and residents. Due to its success, the program broadened its reach to support any city departments' needs and changed its name to Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons (POEL).

The Liaisons
Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons (POELs) are expert "bridge-builders" who are part of their respective community's cultures, fluent in their respective languages, and are bi-cultural and bi-lingual. Equitable outreach and engagement is conducted in a culturally-specific manner allowing participants some comfort and familiarity while navigating the city's processes. POELs are also charged with providing:

  • Quality translations
  • Fair and equitable facilitation (in native language)
  • Simultaneous interpretation
  • Constituent support at city-hosted events
  • Feedback and expertise on cultural concerns and barriers
  • Accurate records and reports of participant feedback and concerns
  • Community workshops and events that parallel larger city-hosted meetings

POELs are contractors who are compensated for their work through an agreement between a fiscal agent and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. This arrangement creates a high level of neutrality and trust for the POELs as they work with community members.

Recent POEL activities
Here are examples of recent POEL activities:

2012 Growing Healthy Seattle with Office of Sustainability and Environment
Fair Housing Outreach with Office for Civil Rights
Alternative Power Feeder Project in Chinatown/ID with Seattle City Light
2011 Transform Seattle: Many voices. One Future Campaign (Climate Action Plan, Transit Master Plan and Seattle Comprehensive Plan)
2011-2012 Neighborhood Planning Updates for Broadview-Bitter Lake-Haller Lake and Rainier Beach with Department of Planning and Development






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