Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

HOW TO E NGAG E MU L T I P L E P E R S P E C T I V E S

As mentioned above, engaging a variety of voices and perspectives in the forum is key. We’ve had educators ask what to do to find individuals from multiple community sectors.

Identifying People

Start by talking with your Extension colleagues and faculty; especially those from different program areas that are relevant to the issue. Ask whom they would invite to be a key informant, a planning committee member, and possibly a forum attendee.

Talk with people your colleagues identified. Then ask them whom they would invite to be a key informant, a planning committee member, and possibly a forum attendant.

Soon you will have identified people for all those roles — maybe even 300+ potential invitees as we experienced.

Recruiting Representatives of the Community

Engage people from multiple sectors of the community. Conversations with people representing sectors of the community will expand your knowledge of community problems and issues, enhance forum discussions, and affect potential outcomes. A respected way of identifying sectors is the use of a Community Capitals framework originally developed by Jan and Neal Flora. The framework lists seven capitals: Built, Cultural, Financial, Human, Natural, Political and Social.

We used the Flora et al. (2005) tool for evaluating strategic interventions and projects. You can see it here.

Engage people representing the demographics of the community. You increase the likelihood that the diversity of the community is involved and that differing perspectives are engaged. Use the most recent Census data.

Use ” Tool 2: Engaging Community – Identifying Community Capitals Worksheet ” as a guide for brainstorming organizations/individuals who could support your project.

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