I’m putting together a presentation (including some slides) on community engagement and leadership for a gathering of First Nations leaders next month. In the spirit of seeking the wisdom of the blogosphere, I’m wondering if any of you have some thoughts or pearls of wisdom that I could share with this group of people. Here is the proposal that I’m working on:
We’ve moved on.
In the last century, government talked to citizens, and if they were feeling particularly charitable, they allowed citizens to say something back. This was called “consultation” and it had it’s origins in the ancient European model of the ruler seeking advice from advisors before making a decision.
That model has unravelled. We have moved from consultation to citizen and community engagement as we recognize that more and more, people need to be actively involved in the decisions that affect their communities. And now we are finding that the shift continues.
What if we moved from community engagement to just community? What if in First Nations communities we recovered that capacity for community members to work together to design and co-own the direction of their Nations?
It’s possible and it is happening all over the world, in indigenous communities on every continent as people realize that the responsibility for the direction of their communities rests with them.
People own what they design. Community engagement is now about community members designing, deciding and implementing the shifts that are needed in their communities. The days of someone else doing it for us are over.
This shift presents challenges and opportunities for leadership. Old models of top-down, command and control leadership are changing and new models of collaborative leadership and community building are rising to the fore. Leveraging the power of networks and self-organizing groups – even and especially in small communities – is the way forward.
What is community engagement now? What else could leadership be?
So my wise friends…thoughts?