Making Emotional Input Part of Community Engagement

Before you embark on a project, gather feedback from people who live in the affected community to assess their opinions and needs. You’ll also want to understand the history of such projects in the community, then anticipate any objections. For example, transportation tends to divide communities, and people know that. They may balk at this and other projects they perceive will negatively impact their neighborhood.

Another example is that industrial projects can have lasting environmental effects, and people are increasingly nervous about this, especially if they don’t understand the project’s purpose.

When rolling out your project, you must also keep power dynamics in consideration. No one likes to feel like an institution is doing a project in their community with no consideration for the impact it will have. Ensure that people feel like their time is being respected and their voices heard and valued. In other words, community engagement is an emotional process. It needs to take a community’s history and complexity into account and honor people’s voices rather than sending token messages. Understanding and accounting for these factors is crucial to any project’s success.

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