Mar 07

Understanding your community

“There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”

M. Scott Peck

Define your community – An outreach program is as much an opportunity for you to learn about your community as it is for the community to learn about earthquake and tsunami preparation. Begin by understanding what makes your community unique, what are its strengths, and weaknesses. This portion of your program will enable you to identify leaders that will make your program a success.

Community can be anything from a single hospital or school to an entire county or region. Some will have defined organizational structures and others will be less structured. You can leverage the various advantages from either system,

Example: “Small regional hospital in mid-sized town”

Define your community.

Write down the “Who, what, where, how and why.”

In order to function well and foster a “sense of community”, a few traits need to be considered.

  • People feel like they belong to the community
  • People believe they can influence the community
  • People are integrated into the community
  • The community fulfills a need of the people
  • There is a shared emotional connection to the community.

Spend some time defining and learning about your community and then write up as detailed summary as possible. Include points that address the concerns above. Since the goal of an outreach program is to influence behavior, in this case, to create action in the public leading to earthquake and tsunami preparedness. There are many ways to listen to a community hopes, needs, priorities, and resources. Some involve surveys, extensive interviews, mapping technologies, and complex processes. Those detailed processes are vital for community-wide visioning and strategic planning for public outreach and education. And while these resource-heavy strategies are good, you can also accomplish this process with much fewer resources. Anything that you can do to stimulate dialogue and community-self- reflection will help you to better define your outreach program.

Geographic communities: These communities are based on place or location. They can be a neighborhood, a town, a city, and state, a country, a planet, or a universe.

Communities of culture: These communities are based on interests, whether they are hobbies, special needs, sub-cultures, or arts.

Community organizations: These communities range from informal kinship groups to civic organizations to faith based groups to political organizations.