Community Engagement vs Community Building (in One Handy Chart)

Your local bank. Your favorite soft drink. The big municipal infrastructure project. These days it seems like everyone is somehow in the business of “community engagement” and “building community.”   I would like to call attention to a really important distinction between these two terms: engaging communities in a decision-making process is not the same as building community. Wait….wha? Well, what’s…

Continue reading

Ladybug Confessions and the Conditions for Good Behavior

Wallybug Divided

A few months ago I opened up the Seattle Times to see an amazing aerial photograph of “The Wallybug.” The Wallybug, a large street painting of a ladybug in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, was my first real community organizing and placemaking project, completed right after I finished graduate school on the street where I lived. The Wallybug was also the first…

Continue reading

Why do only the White Folks show up? Diversity and Inclusion in Community Engagement.

“It was one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the City. The Steering Committee was four older white women…” “It was one of the most diverse elementary schools in the state. The people who showed up for the first community meeting were almost entirely white…” Sound familiar? With conversations about racism and diversity rising to the forefront of America’s consciousness…

Continue reading

Covid & Community, Part I: Headwinds for Engagement.

No more than five people. In Washington State that’s the maximum number of people who can get together at any one time and place in Washington State.   If you didn’t think community engagement work was already challenging, these types of restrictions on in-person gatherings are creating headwinds for many professionals and communities who conduct community engagement work. For most this…

Continue reading