Community Engagement - How Relationships Initiate

Over the past year, I have been involved in a cool advocacy effort in Ohio titled, "The Good Life Project." It is sponsored by the Ohio Board of Developmental Disabilities and has empowered folks involved in disability services to dig deeper into elements related to helping people with disabilities live  a "good life" in the community. Under the leadership of Pete Moore, and Willie Jones, our faculty includes some phenomenal thinkers in the disability movement including Allan Bergman, Meg O'Connell, Patti Scott, and Dave Hasbury.

My specific part of this project is to work with a subgroup on developing better ways for "community connections."   We have met a number of times, both face to face, as well as in webinar format.  It has allowed for a more focused look at community inclusion and what it takes to develop more social capital.

This past week, we looked specifically at community engagement and how most of us typically relate to community and engage with others.   The conversation was instructive, as all of us "engage" in community, but have you ever thought more deeply about this process.

Engagement always surrounds our participation with others focusing on something we have in common.  Usually these settings are formal, quasi-formal, or just plain informal.  Each person who participates has something to offer, and something to gain.  And when we commit to these gatherings, our regularity of attendance creates a "bridge" to other people.  The differences we have, over time, become muted as the topic of engagement align us to the others. 

All these things happen subtly, and somewhat insidiously and the seeds of relationships get sown.  Engagement is seminal to social capital.  Think about it - and engage more.  Your social capital is sure to grow!