The Importance Of Community Engagement
How To Do Your Part In Shaping The Future Of Your Neighbourhood
By Erica Marie
When people buy a home, one of the factors they look at is the community. There are many facets that make up a great neighbourhood, such as the proximity to shopping centres and major highways, nearby schools and playgrounds, and walking trails. However, the true asset of a community is its people. They are the ones that form the
identity of a neighbourhood. Organizations such as the Edmonton Community Development Company (CDC) rely on their participation to undertake neighbourhood development projects aligned with the aspirations of the people living and working in these communities.
Community engagement is a collaborative effort between citizens to affect positive change. Living through the realities of their neighbourhood, they understand the opportunities for improvement and are the most knowledgeable about the area. This is why it is essential to encourage community engagement.
This decision-making model taken from ‘The Components of Effective Collective Impact’ by Dan Duncan illustrates shifting the power from professionals to residents in implementing change within their communities. The intention behind this strategy is for the residents to have a voice in shaping their neighbourhood’s future. “Professionals need to be on tap, not on top.”
Empowering residents to be a part of their community is critical in implementing change. The more people are involved, the more they are invested in the outcome of social initiatives that help shape their community. Not sure on how to get involved? Here are some of the ways you can participate within your community:
- Sign up for their newsletter for updates
- Volunteer in programs happening within your area
- Follow their social media page
- Attend events hosted by your community
One of the success stories of the Edmonton CDC was the Piazza project. It involved a collective effort from the McCauley neighbourhood residents to take ownership of a problematic strip mall. The Edmonton CDC worked with local residents to educate, inform, and support them in raising over $1 million for the investment. This is a prime example of the power of community engagement in affecting positive change.
You can learn more about the story here.
Photo of the Piazza
Another reason to get involved in your community is to create social connectivity. The city of Edmonton’s Hello, How are you? campaign promotes checking in on your neighbour or smiling and saying hello to cultivate a sense of belonging and connection with others. This is beneficial for our mental health and combats the feeling of isolation.
“Edmontonians are less likely to experience stress, depression, loneliness and isolation if they feel connected to a supportive community.”
You have a say in building the future of your community. Your feedback allows policymakers to make better-informed decisions when addressing the challenges in the neighbourhood. Together, we can create inclusivity among the residents and foster a healthier, safer, and friendlier place to live.