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Where's the Love? Exploring Relationship & Ownership in Community Engagement

NC Campus Engagement PACE Conference

Community Conversation Presentation - 2/15/2023

I'm excited to share that I will be hosting a community conversation at the upcoming Pathways for Advancing Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference sponsored by NC Campus Engagement. This session comes out of work with community leaders in Mississippi and explores how to foster love for the community in others.


Session Abstract:

Love for one’s community often serves as a powerful motivator for deeper community work. Communities seem to thrive when its members demonstrate that love and investment in it; it motivates them to solve problems and move forward together. This community conversation will explore the question of how we can foster that sense of love and community ownership in others.


Background:

In 2020, researchers brought together 12 community leaders for an exploration into the role of citizen-leaders. Several findings emerged from this group, including the demonstrated love community leaders have for their communities and their desire to instill that love in others. That love served as a powerful motivator for their community work on any number of issues from youth violence to litter, education to healthcare.


In another example, a school-community partnership supporting homeless youth and families in transition, there was a noticeable web of relationships and trust, a commitment not just to a program, but to the wellbeing of families. Asked about the success of the program, from senior city and district leaders to case managers and community groups, they indicated the program was a tangible expression of love for their neighbors and a shared commitment to their community.


Communities seem to thrive when its members demonstrate that love and investment in it; it motivates them to solve problems and move forward together. Individuals see themselves as active contributors, not just residents. They seem to genuinely care about their neighbors and to sense that the wellbeing of others affects their own. There seems to be a palpable sense of a common good.


In that case, then, how might we cultivate that love of community in others? In students? In community members? How might we create space for others to see themselves as active contributors to the community? What role might a sense of place, or sense of belonging play? What might the role of faculty and staff and community partners look like in that process?


Related Article:

Leaderful Communities Learning from Citizen-Leaders adams_oeth_20
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