Community Engagement: The Next Generation
Engagement expectations have changed and yet we're often using the same community engagement techniques we have used for years. We need a new generation of tools and practices to inform, consult, involve and partner with people in building better communities.
In our cities and communities, a new generation of community engagement is emerging. People demand to be engaged in decisions, they expect to work together and they want better outcomes for themselves and their neighbours. They believe by working together they can achieve a collective impact.
And yet people seem to be less involved than ever. Fewer people are volunteering, fewer people are voting, fewer people belong to service clubs, churches and voluntary networks.
How do we resolve this profound paradox? People demand to be more engaged and yet seem to be less interested in being involved and contributing to outcomes. What are we missing?
Technology Has Changed Everything
Every minute of every day our email inbox is filled with people and companies trying to engage us. We are riveted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and the multitude of apps available to help us “stay in touch” and to get the latest news.
Technology engages us. We are entertained, moved, connected and involved daily. Technology also distracts us. It is easy to become overwhelmed, unfocused, overcommitted and exhausted by the constant stream of stimulation and requests. It is getting harder to break through and to engage people so that they will read our social media posts and online newsletters, fill in the surveys we send out or to buy our products and ideas online.
How Do We Respond?
There are, of course, no simple answers. First, we want to explore and learn to apply the proven techniques that companies have been using for years to increase loyalty. We also want to better understand how systems change and what role engagement plays in building and sustaining movements for change. Most importantly, we want to increase our knowledge of technology and the amazing power it has given us to communicate regularly and effectively with large groups of people.