Community engagement has played an important role in today’s well-functioning societies. When there is a constructive relationship between communities and government institutions, public decisions become more inclusive and sustainable. As a result, communities become happy and satisfied. This is why the participation and involvement of everybody in a community are important. In fact, according to Gensler Research and Insight, democracy is founded in the modern participatory engagement seen in public meetings.
Community engagement is effective in fostering autonomy because of its ability to encourage collaboration to develop services. It allows any governing body to better understand the needs and aspirations of a community.
While the effectiveness of community engagement cannot be contested, it has one big problem. As a community leader, how can you encourage community engagement?
One good way of increasing community engagement is through community activities. These can activities can be developed for a variety of reasons. Activities can be for community building, education, or organizing. They could be for starting a deliberative dialogue or direct service. Activities can also be for the achievement of institutional engagement, engaged research, or economic development.
With all of this in mind, here are common activities that you can develop and organize for your community and to encourage everybody to participate and get involved.
Volunteer work gives an individual a great sense of fulfillment, involvement, and accomplishment. It makes a person become an integral part of society.
Enlist the help of various organizations in your community. Ask them if they need any volunteers for their activities. They reach out to various community facilities such as schools, youth centers, senior centers, and neighborhood groups, and ask if they have volunteers who can help other organizations within the community.
To give you an idea where to start, volunteer work can involve caregiving, tutoring, skills, development, language practice, food bank coordination, legal aid, literacy, translation, and mentoring. Often, hospitals, clinics, senior centers, and daycare centers need volunteers the most.
One of the most important contributions of community gardens in areas where they are grown is the ability to provide fresh produce to residents. This can be helpful especially for families that find it hard to provide food on the table.
Aside from providing free food, community gardens encourage community engagement. According to experts, community gardens strengthen neighborhoods and cultivate understanding. It’s also great for community building.
Community building can only be fulfilled when people of all ages and from all walks of life work together to reach a common goal. In this case, to build a community garden. Organize both youth and adult groups to help in your community garden. Seniors, if they still can work in a garden, are also welcome to help. Their knowledge of growing plants can prove to be invaluable to your project.
Charity events provide a way for community facilities to earn extra cash, which can be used for improving buildings and services. It also allows individuals to volunteer their time, talent, and other resources.
Local businesses, especially new ones that want to introduce themselves to the community, can also hold charity events. Charity events like this can help boost community building. Charity events are perfect opportunities for businesses to integrate into a community and at the same time, provide support and a way for community members to work together.
When local businesses wish to hold a charity event, they will most likely enlist the help of community leaders. To help, you can suggest events that are aligned with their business. For example, an office and school supplies store can organize a charity event that will benefit a local children’s hospital.
Community groups such as hobby groups are one way of increasing community building, education, and organizing. Hobby groups can be book clubs, sports clubs, gardening groups, and more.
Hobby groups are a good venue for people with common interests to come together and share with each other what they love to do. Community groups also encourage the use of community facilities such as community centers, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to have a flexible community center. There should be high-quality demountable partitions, so multiple groups can use a center all at the same time.
Hobby groups are also a good way to organize meetings when you need to disseminate information about the challenges that your community is facing. You can organize their meetings in community facilities, provide materials, and start a conversation. You can talk to them about community problems and seek support.
Community Engagement in Times of Crisis
Gensler Research and Insight has further explained that while public meetings help foster democratic exchange of opinions, the pandemic has made it even more important. But, not for democratic reasons.
Community engagement, when developed with sincere concern and care, can provide a form of a safety net during times of crisis. This can be another reason why community engagement should be enhanced today. Thankfully, with the tips above, you now know what to do to encourage community engagement in your area.