For communities dealing with difficult issues, for public officials wrestling with tough challenges, or for businesses or institutions facing skepticism, Public Agenda's Community Conversation model is the antidote to traditional community forums that are often unproductive at best and polarizing at worst.
Community Conversations are carefully constructed problem-solving dialogues that bring diverse stakeholders together to discuss an important and pressing public issue. Community Conversations provide government officials and community leaders an opportunity to engage a broad cross section of a community in productive, action-oriented deliberation.
Public Agenda’s model for Community Conversations encompasses several key principles, including:
Rather than lectures by experts, or gripe sessions by angry constituents, well-designed Community Conversations create a frank, productive problem-solving process in which diverse ideas are put on the table, diverse participants sit at the table, and people work to find common ground and solutions. Trained moderators from the community help all participants contribute, while trained recorders capture the ideas and actions steps generated during the discussion.
Community Conversations can have concrete impacts in various ways, from informing district practices and government policies, to catalyzing collaborations across existing community organizations and programs, and creating new citizen-led initiatives.
We invite you to watch the video below to see how the Community Conversation unfolds, the positive responses people have to this approach and the results it can achieve.
This video was produced as part of our work with Achieving the Dream.