Is there a hidden level on the IAP2 spectrum — ‘con’-form?

You see a A4 laminated poster on a stobie pole/lamp post. You walk past it ever day for a month. You can see it has small print, some in bold, but you ignore it. Then it’s gone and somewhere inside you think, maybe I should have read it. However you forget about it.

Two months later on your usual walking route you come across a building site right in your path. They are erecting a mobile phone tower, felling trees and changing your route from around the lake to up a dirt track and back through the houses.

How did this happen? You’re upset. But you didn’t read the poster did you. It was actually a consultation.

This however is what I call ‘con’-form. Literally consultation masquerading as inform. The tactic often used by companies trying to sneak through a change with out upsetting or drawing attention to it in the local community. It allows a company to go ahead with a project saying they have actually consulted the community with out challenge, as stated in often archaic legislation.

In this case they have likely put up a jargon filled poster, thrown in a few measurements, words such as ‘pursuant’ and ‘ordinance’ informing the community that they wish to install mobile phone tower (that potentially could pose implications to health, the environment… your walking route) and that if you have an issues… sorry ‘submissions’ you would like to make then to ‘write a letter’ outlining your concerns and send to blah blah blah by blah blah blah by which time the size 10 font hurts your eyes.

Likelihood this is one of maybe 2–3 posters in a 1km radius of the site and is accompanied by a small unbranded newspaper advert in the free local press in-between the obituaries and the sports pages. You know the bit no one reads. People will walk past the poster like you did everyday for a month and not even batter an eyelid, maybe not even see it at all, but in law they have been ‘consulted’ when they thought it was just a poster of information and now this. You are upset.

‘con’-form… does it exist?

Innovative Community Engagement. @engage2act Director and Board member, #engage2act advocate, #gatehashing instigator.

Innovative Community Engagement. @engage2act Director and Board member, #engage2act advocate, #gatehashing instigator.