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Top Tips for Inclusive Community Engagement

By Leslie Wright

#1 There is no such thing as the “general public”.
Know who your community is (demographics, stakeholders, networks) and how they get their information -this knowledge is the foundation for how you will design community engagement activities and communicate about your project.

#2 Keep your “promise” to community members. 
Be clear about how resident input will be used and show how that information shaped project results.

#3 Go to the people.
Change up how you gather community input. Go to where people hang out whether it is a
physical gathering space, like a coffee shop or community center, as well as online spaces.

#4 Spread the word.
Create a communications strategy that includes project branding, messaging and tactics for talking about your project effectively.

#5 Ask for people’s personal story.
Encourage people to express their experiences and opinions in their own words first. Don’t
expect them to understand plannerese or technical jargon.

#6 Understand local power dynamics.
Design project activities in a way that provides dignity to everyone and where people feel safe talking about their concerns.

#7 Engage around interests.
Sometimes you have to participate in community issues that matter to others before making a connection to your own project.

#8 Think about the details.
When you hold a community event think through how you can make it more inclusive (e.g.
time, location, child care, transportation, food, translators, facilitators, etc.).

#9 Use technology … if it’s a fit.
There are many great high tech and low tech ways to engage people so pick strategies that are a fit with who you are trying to reach.

#10 Make it fun!
When you bring people together for a project discussion think about how you can make it a social opportunity too.

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