We’re just over a week into 2017, and it’s time to talk about goals, plans, and resolutions: thus, 5 things to do in 2017 to build an an empowered community.
Let’s start with the obvious question: what is an empowered community?
An Empowered Community
An empowered community is a community where every individual feels able and encouraged to contribute to the betterment, growth and strengthening of a community in which they feel ownership and, most importantly, belonging.
1. Coalition Building
Coalition building is one path to community empowerment. Bringing together individuals and leaders who represent a broad range of stakeholders and community sectors and seeking to find common ground on a particular topic or issue. Tom Wolff writes about community empowerment through coalition building:
Health and Human Service Coalitions aim to improve the community’s quality of life by: developing the community’s local planning capacity, increasing collaborative problem solving, promoting greater cooperation, developing an advocacy capacity of the community, and increasing information access.
How to do it?: look for opportunities to join active coalition building efforts; this might be community meetings that happen on a regular basis, activity specific groups like Juvenile Justice Advisory Councils, DWI and community meetings against substance use and abuse, League of Women voter meetings, Multi-disciplinary team meetings, or regional or state summits on topics that are of interest to you, your business, or your organization. Generally speaking, seek out and encourage opportunities for working together to identify and implement action, encouraging networking and connections between communities and organizations.
2. Community Skills and Knowledge Overview
3. Seek Equality in your community
How to do it?: By working in ways which recognise that discrimination exists, promote equity of
4. Build Participation as a cultural value
How to do it?:
Find ways to say thank you to other members of your community for what they do. Even if what they do is not directly in aid of your organization, your business, or you. A hand written thank you card never goes astray, especially if it means you quietly making another aware that they are noticed, and appreciated. A letter to the editor in a local newspaper, or nominations for local, state or national awards or acknowledgements are other ways to demonstrate appreciation. This is great for the whole community when one is acknowledged for their participation and contribution.
As Mary Reding Smith, co-founder of Military Spouse J.D. Network says, “Take people with you” – when you are meeting with a representative (whether legislative, community, or business), take a young person, an employee, a mentee, or a friend interested in community empowerment with you. Share the opportunities to build experience speaking truth and helping to build strong, vibrant, supportive communities.
Invite people to join you. Ask for help; ask for their help (and take time to notice what people are good at).
5. Be an advocate for Social Justice
A final word
Contributing to the growth and strength of an empowered community doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it the work of one individual, business, community organization, or entity. It is a rather abstract, nebulous even, concept. The fruit, as they say, bears witness to the existence and power of an empowered community.
Speaker. Reader. Thinker. Writer. Traveler. Advocate
Anna Blanch Rabe, founder of Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates, has been working with Social Enterprises, socially-responsible businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations since 2006 to develop and effectively execute strategic, digital, and narrative initiatives to gain exposure, develop community capacity, attract talent, and reach new customers. Anna is an Australian-born speaker, writer and advocate. Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, Instagram, facebook page, & Twitter. Ask for a Media Kit
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