Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

facilitating. Include time for open discussion about best practices and questions during the training. Schedule time to meet with facilitators in person the morning of the forum for a brief orientation and answer last minute questions. Facilitation is a learned skill and effective facilitators guide a discussion without dominating conversation, making it easy for group members to contribute. The facilitator has the difficult but important job of keeping group members focused, present, and engaged.

The more contentious the issue, the more trained your facilitators need to be in managing group members and staying on track with the agenda.

Facilitators can also be the group note taker, summarizing main points that establish common understanding, giving a speaker opportunity to clarify if they feel misunderstood, and creating documentation that can be referred to later for future reporting or planning.

There are multiple resources for group facilitation and developing ground rules. We suggest you explore these three resources:

1. Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision -Making 2. World Café 3. Community Toolbox

Key Informants

The purpose of key informants is twofold:

1) Obtain more information about the local attitudes and understanding of the issue.

2) Identify champions for the need for your forum and validate it among peers as they can help identify who should participate in the forum.

Key informants are usually stakeholders within your community; some may have some technical data or information about the community or issue that could inform the issue naming and framing. Online via Zoom Key Informant Focus Group 2020

As described in Figure 7 (see next page), you can conduct individual Interviews or hold focus-groups both on-site and virtually. These key informants will reveal common themes across sectors while building relationships with these stakeholders. As you are gathering information from individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives, you are in the position to inform and build connections between stakeholders and thereby raising the importance of issues across Community Capitals sectors.

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