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One of the key steps in a successful forum is giving people the information they need to understand the issue. You need good research to keep the issue grounded in more than just opinion. It is also helpful to frame the issue in terms of three or four options, complete with pros and cons for each.
One of the results of public forums can be information about how the participants felt about the issue. This information can be data from a questionnaire or summaries of the table discussion. This document presents the findings from the public forum on the Hillcrest Golf Course, both from the forum and from a supplemental public survey.