Community engagement is an integral part of any local government effort. It is crucial to providing a sense of shared ownership, transparency, and much needed information to make important decisions on key projects and initiatives. When determining which project would be a best fit for a first (or next) engagement, here are a few criteria we recommend to identify which initiatives within your local city or county will benefit the most from community engagement.
1. High Community Impact: Look for projects that have direct and broad impact on the community. These typically include public infrastructure projects, zoning changes, transportation plans or public safety measures. If decisions made about a project will have effects on the daily lives of residents, community engagement is essential.
2. High Complexity: Projects that involve intricate details, vast legislative implications, or complex technical resolutions can greatly benefit from community engagement. Here, a diverse range of perspectives can lend fresh insight and also help to simplify complex discussions for the larger public.
3. High Economic Impact: Economic development, job creation initiatives, or budgetary allocations significantly influence the economic stability of a community. By engaging the community in such projects, you can align the interests of the government with those of the citizens, improving public cooperation and sharing economic literacy.
4. High Controversial Potential: Any initiative that has potential to cause controversy or disagreement within the community should have robust community engagement. The effort to listen and adapt up front in planning usually has a significant return on investment in costs (and headaches) avoided later in the project.