Six Steps to Community Engagement

This presentation came as a bonus to the work I was doing for the Waiheke Community Supported Agriculture project. As I attempted to find an effective way to communicate the “How” of that project, I found I had stumbled upon a model that could be applied to any community project.

Ever since coming across the Transition Towns work and seeing how the 12 steps in the transition towns work to keep a local initiative on track, I quickly noticed that the same 12 steps could apply to an individual project. The six steps suggested here have distilled and simplified this even further, and you can watch and listen to this 5 minute video and then read the transcript, with embedded links.

Your comments are welcome.

Here is the transcript of the slideshow.

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12 Steps to creating a Waiheke CSA
Submitted by James Samuel on 21 July 2009 – 12:10pm
12 Steps Community Supported Agriculture csa waiheke Waiheke Island
Transition Towns has a 12 step framework, which I have adapted here to see if could be useful as a guide for how we might bring the Waiheke CSA into fully operational existence, and meeting its vision of “Waiheke Well Fed”.

My additions are in italics. Your comments are welcome.

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12 Steps: Step 12 – Create an Energy Descent Plan
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:52pm
12 Steps Step 12
Each subgroup will have been focusing on practical actions to increase community resilience and reduce the carbon footprint.

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12 Steps: Step 11 – Let it go where it wants to go…
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:51pm
12 Steps Step 11
Although you may start out developing your Transition Town process with a clear idea of where it will go, it will inevitably go elsewhere. If you try and hold onto a rigid vision, it will begin to s ap your energy and appear to stall. Your role is not to come up with all the answers, but to act as a catalyst for the community to design their own transition.

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12 Steps: Step 10 – Honour the Elders
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:50pm
12 Steps Step 10
For those of us born in the 1960s when the cheap oil party was in full swing, it is very hard to picture a life with less oil. Every year of my life (the oil crises of the 70s excepted) has been underpinned by more energy than the previous years.

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12 Steps: Step 9 – Build a bridge to local government
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:49pm
12 Steps Step 9
Whatever the degree of groundswell your Transition Town initiative manages to generate, however many practical projects you’ve initiated and however wonderful your Energy Descent Plan is, you will not progress too far unless you have cultivated a positive and productive relationship with your local authority. Whether it is planning issues, funding issues or providing connections, you need them on board. Contrary to your expectations, you may well find that you are pushing against an open door.

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12 Steps: Step 8 – Facilitate the great reskilling
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:41pm
12 Steps Step 8
If we are to respond to peak oil and climate change by moving to a lower energy future and relocalising our communities, then we’ll need many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted. One of the most useful things a Transition Town project can do is to reverse the “great deskilling” of the last 40 years by offering training in a range of some of these skills.

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12 Steps: Step 7 – Develop visible practical manifestations of the project
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:33pm
12 Steps Step 7
It is essential that you avoid any sense that your project is just a talking shop where people sit around and draw up wish lists. Your project needs, from an early stage, to begin to create practical, high visibility manifestations in your community. These will significantly enhance people’s perceptions of the project and also their willingness to participate.

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12 Steps: Step 6 – Use Open Space
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:31pm
12 Steps Step 6
We’ve found Open Space Technology to be a highly effective approach to running meetings for Transition Town initiatives.

In theory it ought not to work. A large group of people comes together to explore a particular topic or issue, with no agenda, no timetable, no obvious coordinator and no minute takers.

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12 Steps: Step 5 – Form Sub Groups
Submitted by James Samuel on 23 July 2008 – 8:28pm
12 Steps Step 5
Part of the process of developing an Energy Descent Action Plan is tapping into the collective genius of the community. Crucial for this is to set up a number of smaller groups to focus on specific aspects of the process. Each of these groups will develop their own ways of working and their own activities, but will all fall under the umbrella of the project as a whole.

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