Emilio Castillo, Mia George, Marie Succar, and Ian Rolston
When our team embarked on this research journey, we were all coming from a place of interest in community engagement. We knew from personal and anecdotal experience how powerful community engagement could be to create better futures, but we also felt the way community engagement was done currently was not achieving its potential.
We began with two primary research objectives. We wanted to understand how
- Community engagement could be decolonized; and
- Power structures impact engaged communities
We also had several secondary research objectives. We wanted to
- Understand how to make the decision-making process more collaborative
- Identify the people who are impacted versus those who are invested, informed and/or interested in community engagement; and Understand how innovative solutions and/or channels can be used to enhance community engagement and implement community feedback
We began this project with many questions, including
- What are the barriers to implementing all the good information that comes from community engagement?
- How is decision making received by each stakeholder?
- How can innovation / technology be leveraged to enhance community engagement?
- What is decision making and how does it sit vis a vis leadership and the collective? Is decision making a process owned by only a few?
- How can we change the method of engaging with the community to create fundamentally different / new outcomes outside the colonized norm?
- How do we uncover political agendas?
- How do we uncover the voices least heard?
- How does language impact community engagement? How do power dynamics expressed in language undermine desired futures in community engagement? How does language such as “decision makers” hinder the implementation of community insights?