A continuum of engagement
A definition of community engagement by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning  reminds us that community engagement has a focus on the collective rather than the individual:
Community engagement… is a planned process with the specific purpose of working with identified groups of people, whether they are connected by geographic location, special interest or affiliation, to address issues affecting their well-being. Linking the term ‘community’ to ‘engagement’ serves to broaden the scope, shifting the focus from the individual to the collective, with associated implications for inclusiveness, to ensure consideration is given to the diversity that exists within any community (p. 3).
Moore, McDonald, McHugh-Dillon, and West  argue that:
It is important to note that the difference between engaging individuals and engaging communities is more than just an economy of scale. A community is more than simply a group of individuals. We engage communities in order to improve outcomes for communities and we seek improved outcomes for communities not only as a means of improving outcomes for individual, but also to bring about change in the community itself: to improve the social fabric that provides us with a sense of belonging and connection. (p. 6) Continue reading
The latest video from the makers of The Story of Stuff focuses on microfibres.
The use of synthetic fibres has been steadily increasing with two-thirds of new clothing now being made from synthetic fibres.
Microfibres in oceans and waterways are an increasing problem. A recent study found that when synthetic jackets are washed in a washing machine, they release an average of 1.7 grams of microfibres each wash. While waste water treatment plants capture many of the microfibres, up to 40% enter our waterways and oceans. Continue reading
I’ve just updated the reading list on ABCD (over 100 resources). I’ve added nine articles or other resources. Most of them are fairly old (still worth looking at) but some of them are quire recent. Please let me know of any other material you think should be added.
The material I’ve added is:
Ashford, G., & Patkar, S. (2001). The positive path: Using appreciative inquiry in rural Indian communities. Manitoba, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development. Available from http://www.iisd.org/library/positive-path-using-appreciative-inquiry-rural-indian-communities
Cameron, J., & Gibson, K. (2001). Shifting focus: Alternative pathways for communities and economies. A resource kit. Melbourne: Latrobe City and Monash University. Available from http://www.communityeconomies.org/site/assets/media/old%20website%20pdfs/action%20research/Shifting%20Focus.pdf Continue reading
The Spectrum of Public Participation (Image by Yvonne Hollandy collected by Tim Bonnemann)
Tim Bonnemann, the founder of Intellitics and a previous board member of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) in the USA, has been collecting graphic depictions of the Spectrum of Public Participation and its variations for a number of years. You can find his impressive collection of over 60 images here.
It is interesting to see the ways in which people have tried to adapt the Spectrum. Sometimes they have used the original levels with their corresponding goals and promises, and just changed the graphic design. Sometimes they have kept it largely the same but with some minor changes to terms (e.g., partnerships instead of collaborate). Sometimes they have tried adding new levels or made other quite significant changes. Continue reading
Sometimes I fear I’m going to be discovered as a fraud. Who am I to be writing a blog on community engagement? On what basis do I support other organisations to improve their work? Am I really preparing students for the realities of working in the field? What gives me the authority to speak to other people about how to improve their work?
Finding an authoritative voice when undermined by these doubts can be challenging.
For many years I hesitated to call myself an academic – I still avoid using the title Dr. – and I still find myself undermining my credibility, particularly through jokes. I’m not very ambitious and find it hard to sell myself. I’m a Level B academic and I’m not sure if I will ever seek promotion to a higher level. (In Australia there are five levels – from A to E: Associate lecturer, Lecturer, Senior lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor.) Much of this resistance to a promotion is wanting to limit my income but, to be honest, some of it is self-doubt.
It’s also not easy finding an authoritative voice when academics have rejection in common. All academics have experienced rejection (or will), especially when writing for publication and seeking research grants are major responsibilities of academics. Some journals reject over 80% of the articles they receive and even leading academics have ground breaking research rejected by journals. Likewise, rejection rates for applications to the Australian Research Council can be as high as 84% for major grant rounds. Continue reading
I am currently helping to plan and facilitate an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop for parents through Family Support Newcastle. We have a good team of four facilitators with a variety of experience and backgrounds.
While this workshop will be open to any parents, we are hoping to mainly attract parents who are facing significant challenges. We are working towards a number of short-term outcomes for the parents:
- Improved conflict resolution and negotiation skills
- Improved ability to show warmth and love towards their children
- Increased confidence in parenting
- Greater self-awareness in relation to parenting, making choices and conflict
- Improved ability to create boundaries with their children in a respectful, caring way
- Improved connections with their families, their community and support services.
Yesterday I updated a post on Definitions of community engagement from 2011. I’ve added some more recent definitions, updated some of the material to reflect what I’ve learnt over the last six years, removed some unimportant material which came from resources no longer available on the web, and fixed up broken links.
You can read it at https://sustainingcommunity.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/what-is-community-engagement/
Spectrum of Public Participation
(c) International Association for Public Participation www.iap2.org
The Spectrum of Public Participation was developed by the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) to help clarify the role of the public (or community) in planning and decision-making, and how much influence the community has over planning or decision-making processes. It identifies five levels of public participation (or community engagement).
The further to the right on the Spectrum, the more influence the community has over decisions, and each level can be appropriate depending on the context. It is important to recognise they are levels; not steps. Continue reading