Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

Appreciative Inquiry framework acknowledges that working towards big goals is a multi-step process that takes time to achieve. It focuses on building positive relationships and present potential (Emery & Flora, 2006). The core components of Appreciative Inquiry are also at the heart of each part of a forum’s agenda. They include: the power of storytelling, recognizing the wisdom of others, the importance of curiosity in our quest for doing better, the value of hearing stories, and the primacy of conversations and dialogue.

There are several specific facilitative processes that use Appreciative Inquiry as a foundation. You may wish to explore some of these as options for your forum agenda:

World Café is a flexible method for large group dialogue using small groups and rounds of questions specific to the context and purpose of the event. World Café uses seven design principles as the basis of its process: setting the context, creating hospitable space, exploring questions that matter, encouraging everyone’s contribution, connecting diverse perspectives, listening for patterns and insights, and sharing collective discoveries.

Deliberative Community Forum is a framework that brings citizens to the table to name and frame public issues and deliberate the options for addressing the problem. (For more details and resources, go to the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forum.

Design Thinking is an iterative strategy. Repeated problem solving. Inspiration, ideation, and implementation are at the core of this collaborative approach. Design Thinking embraces curiosity and creativity. Toolkits, trainings, and certifications are available.

Strategic Doing™ is an approach that engages people in identifying the future as they would like it to be, identifying available resources and creating steps toward that vision thereby moving people toward action. There are more details about this process in this how-to guide. More information can be found here.

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