Why consider a community engagement process?
Community engagement is a process of working collaboratively with groups of people who are connected in some way - perhaps they live in the same neighborhood, support the same cause or issue, or share a problem that effects their well-being. Experienced leaders are always looking for ways to make people more aware of important issues and the need for change.
The first steps we recommend in engaging community are developing a clear understanding of the issue, gathering community input, and fostering a spirit of cooperation and the ability to discuss problems and needs directly. We facilitate open discussions and help people to become actively involved in reaching consensus on solutions.
What Do Community Engagement Processes Include?
While successful community engagement processes are designed to fit the unique needs of a community and its situation, there are several principles that successful community engagement processes have in common:
- The process promotes widespread participation.
- There are well-developed systems of communication.
- The process includes clarifying priorities and agreeing on how to achieve common goals.
- People are more likely to become engaged when they have control over decisions, particularly over how funds are used.
- Community members move from simple to progressively more complex activities and take careful steps to measure and analyze the needs and problems of the community.
- The process is not overwhelmed by too many resources or stifled by too few, and there is a balance between internal and external resources.
We have found community forums to be a useful tool as part of a community engagement process. If you are launching a forum, check out our forum preparation checklist (coming soon) as you begin your planning. And, for more information, look at the Fieldstone Alliance's fieldguide: Conducting Community Forums: Engaging Citizens, Mobilizing Communities
Please contact us for more information or to discuss your specific needs.