Community Engagement, in general, can be defined as the process in which community members come and work together, building relationships, with the chief motto of making the community a better place to live.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Vicotria (Australia) defines Community Engagement as: “A planned process with the specific purpose of working with identified groups of people, whether they are connected by geographical location, special interest or affiliation, to address issues affecting their well-being. Linking the term ‘community’ to ‘engagement’ serves to broaden the scope, shifting the focus from the individual to the collective, with associated implications for inclusiveness, to ensure consideration is given to the diversity that exists within any community.”
Types of Community Engagement:
Vertical Community Engagement
It is where the government, business or any other organization wants to engage the community in consultation, decision making or any other aspect of their work. It is generally associated with consultation and planning.
Horizontal Community Engagement
It is where people are actively engaged in their local community with the end goals of community building and community development.
*Community engagement is a two-way process. It essentially involves meaningful interactions. Social media and marketing are important aspects of it.
Principles of Community Engagement
There are some core principles and values that lay the foundation for Community Engagement.
1) Integrity: Openness about the purpose of engagement.
2) Inclusions: Opportunity for free and fair expression of diverse range of opinions and perspectives.
3) Deliberations: Decision making and appreciation of respective roles and responsibilities.
4) Influence: Acknowledging the members and formulating the policies & services that reflect their impact.
TED & Community Engagement
TED is a non-profit global community which believes in the power of ideas that can change lives and in turn, the world. It began in 1984, as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged. But today, it is the hub for the worlds most inspired Thinkers, Enablers, and Doers. It is the community of inquisitive minds coming together to share ideas and ideals.
In my view, TED is a form of Horizontal Community Engagement as it provides a platform to exchange ideas and to engage actively taking those ideas further into action that are useful for both personal and community advancement.
As we know, TEDx programme is designed to help communities, organizations and individuals to start conversation and connection through local TED-like experiences. TEDx programmes are more impactful as their local reach helps in better understanding of the social issues. It is the meeting place of like-minded people from diverse backgrounds who with the exchange of ideas can work for the community building.
Special Mention – TEDxHyderabad Salons
TEDx Salons are informal events of 30-40 participants discussing topics related to the chosen theme. These span over a few hours, show TED talks and bring together Thought Leaders in this space to engage in conversations that will impact the city.
The first TEDxHyderabad Salon was held on April 17th, 2016. It was also the first of its kind in the world to be held in a moving ‘X’ bus, taking attendees to the theme-related destinations. For this unconventional idea, it has been featured in TED Innovations blog. (http://tedxinnovations.ted.com/2016/04/21/tedx-on-a-bus-tedxhyderabad-hosts-an-event-on-the-move/)
The first Salon was based on the theme ‘Civic Responsibility’ – water conservation, cleanliness, food distribution and urban congestion being the discussed topics. The destinations were Gandipet Lake and Hyderabad Traffic Police & City Police Command Headquarters. The outcome of this Salon is the ambitious ‘Save 10k Bores‘ project. This is taken up by ‘Society for Advancement of Human Endeavour’ (SAHE), a non-profit organization behind TEDxHyderabad which works on creating a positive social impact. This campaign is started with the intention of recharging deep aquifiers through rainwater to recharge 10,000 borewells in the city. This initiative supported by Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association (HYSEA), offers a hassle-free model which has been proven effective in many countries and is also economical. With 260 lakes vanished and being at brink of water scarcity, this is a great campaign that shaped up to solve the problem.
The Salons in general and this Salon in particular represent of the community engagement model given by the International of Public Participation (IAP2). These follow the pathway: Inform → Consult → Involve → Collaborate → Empower
The team informs the people about the Salon. It takes inputs from the people and involves them in formulating some ideas. The collaboration done to execute that ideas result in the Empowerment of the Community. ‘Save 10kBores’ is one such empowering initiative.
The second TEDxHyderabad Salon on Healthcare resulted in the ‘First Response program’ conducted by EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute). Likewise, the third salon (Technology & Innovation), fourth salon (Art & Music) and the last salon (Education) have also culminated on a high note, the outcomes of those can be seen soon.
TEDxHyderabad is revolutionising the concept of Community Engagement, one idea at a time.
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