Whether you’re starting to build a local network, developing an environmental literacy plan, creating a MWEE, or just interested in broadening community engagement generally, the North American Association for Environmental Education has a series of Guidelines for Excellence in Community Engagement that may be helpful. Specifically, the guidelines provide suggestions for working in collaborative and inclusive partnerships that root environmental education efforts in the community’s interest, issues, and capacities and describe how to engage in long-term investments in community change.
These five videos explore each characteristic of effective community engagement in collaboration with select Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grantees. The videos explore how grantees have actually implemented concepts from the guidelines, providing practical examples and tips for others.
Understanding Your Community
In order to ensure that equity is at the forefront of environmental literacy planning efforts, it’s essential that you develop a deep understanding of your community – both on and off the school campus. Understanding community starts with building authentic relationships with community members and listening to uncover existing assets as well as their hopes for the future. The Equity Inquiry for Education Networks - Understanding Your Community was created by Digital Promise to walk users through examining demographics, identifying equity gaps and barriers, and surfacing and affirming community assets. This tool could be used at many points in the planning process, including as a means to inform the diversity of people you want to bring into your environmental literacy team or local network or as a way to orient your team early on in the planning process.
Spectrum of Community Engagement
Community engagement is an ongoing and evolving process that is based in trust and relationships. The Spectrum of Community Engagement, a tool developed by Facilitating Power, sets out developmental stages from “informing” to “defer to” that can help your team reflect on where you are along a spectrum and set goals through conscious and collective practice for where you want to be. Another version of the tool (The Spectrum of Family & Community Engagement for Educational Equity) is also available specifically for integrating best practices for family and community involvement for educational equity.