Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Active Engagement

Yesterday, after I posted about Saturday's CA Community Engagement meeting, a friend said, "While I appreciate child care, Saturday mornings are usually busy for families. Fall festival at nursery school this weekend for us. I also appreciate the desire to hear from more voices but would like CA to seek them out rather than passive engagement."

And when I started thinking about active rather than passive engagement, two organizations came to mind. I'd love to see the Columbia Association go where the people are, like the Burp Better folks or Healthy Howard. That's it! CA needs a Street Team! So I asked my friends on Facebook.

Columbia peeps! Where are a few places you go, every week, in Columbia? Farmer's Market, Library? Help me make a list.

  • RC Community Center, Hobbits Glen Golf Course (lately), HCC (oops RCCC is Ellicott CIty)
  • Swim center, Supreme, Dorsey Search village center, Jackson Pond (weekly at least in summer, less but often now).
  • Pathways and playgrounds
  • Farmers Market, pathways, and Supreme.
  • Library, Starbucks, Lifetime, church ..... some weeks Harris Teeter or Wegmans, but not every week.
  • The Mall ( to walk and/or to shop and eat), Hickory Ridge Village Center (shopping and eating), pathways everywhere, The Hawthorn Center (work). My husband visits the Athletic Club (he calls it the "old people's gym").
  • Hickory Ridge Grill, Wegmans, to play with the kitties at Petco
  • Icerink
  • The only places we visit EVERY week; the pathways, food lion, farmers market, the library. Swimming pool.
  • Wegmans, church, Lake Elkhorn
  • church, food lion, school
  • Coffee at Wegman's . Walk around Elkhorn. Gotta add Second Chance to our list now that we know how to get in the back door, also, I'm at Slayton House every week. LOTS of activity there. Multiple dance classes plus Big River opens this weekend.
  • Farmers Market, paths and Supreme.
That's where CA needs to be, engaging people. (Okay, maybe not jumping out at people on the pathways.) That is where they can be communicating their message best as they help people learn more about the Columbia Association: programs & services; communications & engagement; and governance. For too long the CA model has been passive. The assumption is that you will find the Customer Service center on your own, you will find your Village Center staff on your own, and you will engage with your community by going to meetings.

Do I have I tell you again how I feel about going to meetings? I thought not.

If you look at the list above, it is pretty clear that's not what is happening. And to be honest, once the data from Saturday are analyzed, I think the attendance will be overwhelmingly from one specific slice of our population. If CA wants to be truly helpful, and relevant, it needs to go where the people are. It is great that they want to give people a chance to be heard. But maybe they will need to change their model of engagement to really hear what people have to say.


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