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December 09, 2019

Engaged communities

How community-led development can increase civic participation

BERL and the Helen Clark Foundation are excited to announce our partnership with the launch of a think-piece on the role of local government in enabling engaged communities.   

Informed and engaged communities are central to a healthy democratic society, and local government has a critical role to play.  Engaged communities have high levels of community knowledge, cultural vibrancy, and civic participation.  Given their importance, local government should be striving to foster engaged communities.

This report explores dimensions that make communities engaged, looking within and beyond traditional definitions of community and community engagement frameworks.  The types of communities we describe include:

  • Communities of place – a community of people who live within the same geographical boundary
  • Communities of interest – a community of people who share a common interest
  • Communities of identity – a community of people who share common affiliations or experiences.

In reality, people belong to many different types of communities.  The traditional emphasis on “place” in local government community engagement could be a barrier to other types of communities contributing.  We argue for a reframing of the concept of community and for local government to recognise its role as an enabler of community-led development.

Our recommendations are based on the premise that community-led engagement will make the difference needed to ensure engaged communities.  These recommendations for local government authorities are:

  • Provide space and resources for community-led development
  • Develop a strategy for effective use of social media and technology
  • Have effective and meaningful diversity and inclusion strategies
  • Build trusted partnerships and long-lasting connections.

To read the report, click here.