mission is to engage citizens in inspired action as they work
together on behalf of their communities to create and realize
bold visions for the future. We have a lot of experience helping
people to collaboratively build communities that are caring,
prosperous and healthy.
In the summer of 2003 we formed a learning
circle to deepen our understanding of community engagement.
We wanted to know who has written about community engagement
and the different techniques for applying it. Over the course
of the summer we researched these topics and held meetings
with staff and external sources.
We hoped that this research would provide
us with a deeper understanding of our own definition of community
engagement and how our work can meet the needs of communities.
We found a great number of sources during
our research - too many to put here - so we developed a list
of our six favourites. Check them out in the list at the right.
You can also download
the full report to view all the sources we found.
Based on our research, we understand community
engagement to be “people working collaboratively, through
inspired action and learning, to create and realize bold visions
for their common future.”
Community engagement process(es) bring people
together. We believe these processes can enable collective
change (changing attitudes, building social capital, etc.)
and create movement in communities. Good community engagement
will build agreement around issues and create momentum for
communities to address local issues. It includes achieving
outcomes and creating solutions to community needs.
Community engagement also includes following
a process that ensures communities determine local priorities,
and all stakeholder groups are represented. Citizens need
to be at the center of the community engagement process. This
process ensures communities are empowered and have control
over their resources and the decision-making process.
We also believe that valuable community engagement
processes and outcomes can be ongoing or episodic. They are
not limited by time. Both short-term and long-term community
engagement projects can have dramatic impacts on communities.
We think that community engagement involves
a diverse number of stakeholders and can include a number
of sectors. Different people, groups and sectors can collaborate
and work together to discuss ideas, create plans and implement
solutions to community problems. Multisectoral collaboration
can create dynamic and creative communities and foster networks
and new relationships.
Through multisectoral collaboration all participants
work together as equals to create solutions for their community.
Therefore any player, including citizens, organizations, and
government, can initiate community engagement, as long as
the process works collaboratively with communities.
We find that our understanding of community
engagement is best reflected in seven key criteria. These
criteria show, at this time, our approach to community engagement.
- A broad range of people are participating and are engaged
- People are trying to solve complex issues
- The engagement process creates vision, achieves results,
creates movement and/or change
- Different sectors are included in the process
- There is a focus on collaboration and social inclusion
- The community determines local priorities
- There is a balance between community engagement processes
and creating action
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We wanted to find out what people are doing
to improve their communities so we looked far and wide for
examples of community engagement.
We combed the web, the research we'd already
done and we talked to people to find a number of inspiring
stories of community action.
We looked for stories that included local,
collective action where people learn as they work towards
common goals. We wanted to find examples of communities and
people working separately from established organizations and
governments that might control their decisions and resources.
And we did!
We’ve gathered them here for you and
to make it easier (and quicker) to go through, we’ve
identified our five favourites in the table on the right.
Our hope is that these examples show people
the power of community engagement and inspire them to take
action in their own communities. We realize that additional
examples of community engagement exist and that this list
is not exhaustive.
The examples we’ve highlighted relate
to our definition and criteria
of community engagement. If you have any ideas about other
examples we should look into we’d love to hear from
you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
with your input.
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