There is a growing concern that the robust notions of community can sometimes be left out of collective impact discussions and implementation efforts; indeed, the very nature of community seems at times an afterthought, even sometimes an unwanted nuisance to be minimized. But collective impact efforts must be aligned and calibrated to the context of community – the “civic culture” – in which they are taking place.

This article will lay out five key characteristics of civic culture, explore why they matter, and how paying attention to them may be the difference between a collective impact effort getting stuck – even falling flat – or generating the kinds of results we seek. A collective impact approach holds enormous promise for bringing about meaningful change – but only if such action is taken with communities, not apart from them.
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1 Comment

Thank you, Mr. Harwood, for this excellent piece. You have provided a strong rationale for community engagement and have offered a practical guide for how communities can prepare for, improve, and assess engagement.

I encourage those who enjoyed this piece to also read a commentary I wrote, entitled "Community Engagement: The Secret Ingredient," published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. I call on funders to invest in community engagement, technical assistance providers to support it, and researchers like myself to create tools to measure it.

I'm excited that such a rich conversation about community engagement is emerging!

Submitted by Joanna Geller on Wed, 2015-02-18 16:14