We are all part of our own communities
A healthy community is an engaged community. When people feel a sense of belonging to the places they live and work, they form relationships with those places that continues the cycle of active engagement. This puts responsibility on decision-makers to involved public outreach as a part of governance, which can sometimes be a tricky task. Here are 4 reasons why public engagement is important in bureaucratic decision-making:
- It provides a means towards a bottom-up approach to decision making, not simply a top-down approach, which can be limiting.
- It engages the community in governance, reinforcing the strong bonds people form with the places they live and continuing an important cycle of active engagement.
- It provides perspective from outside the bubble of bureaucracy. A system cannot learn everything it needs to know from within. Outside perspective are needed to provide context as well as a check on the internal thinking of the system of government.
- It informs those facilitating the process – the government officials and consultants – as to public opinions and community perspective. It is imperative to know what matters to the people in your community!
Like so many other things in our lives, there is a balance to be found to achieve the best outcomes for the people and places that we govern. While very import and key to good decision-making, we must also recognize the limits of public input and opinion. The bureaucracy, officials, and experts do have knowledge and understanding – the inside perspective – that the public does not. Therefore, we need to balance public input with understandings of government. As we mentioned, this can be a trick task, but when done well, it is a tremendous asset to governments, and ultimately the communities they serve.
What does public engagement mean to you? What does it look like in your community??
“There is no greater power for change than a
community discovering what it cares about.”