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Community engagement : Benefits and challenges

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Source: http://www.sfu.ca/cnhr/workshops/rblug_workshop_2_hazards_id.jpg

Nowadays, community engagement show their crucial role in connection between resident and government many sector such as policy, program or service issues. However, community engagement face many difficulties during the entire period of the project.

The initial stage is often faced the most difficult. Collecting comments or to attract the attention of people is always a problem when starting. Normally, only the people who directly relate to the project in terms of economic or livelihood, will be interest meetings with investors or local governments. In addition, the explanation and the way how to transmit information, the expert knowledge to the layman is not easy. This stage requires patience and use many different ways to approach each separate groups to collect all the needed data, to meet most of the needs of residents. For example, the case study Prudhoe Walled Garden Project from lecture of Sally Thomas (2014), the actual number reflects the initial difficulties, only about 35 people participated in the three day event and 60 people completed the questionnaire online , it is small number which compared to the population of Prudhoe. However, this can be seen as a positive sign, the project had interacted with local people to build the basic foundation for the next step, build ideas and preliminary design for project.

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Source: http://www.socialregeneration.com/app/assets/images/slideshow/img_004.jpg

Obstacles are still not stop there, during the construction project, the community engagement is essential to consider all aspects arise or better adapted to the project originally started more and more people are interested. This is very useful for designers to be able to consult with the appropriate choice, recognize projects under multiple angles and aspects, which only the locals know or pay attention. Sometimes, the project has to delayed due to a standstill in the face resolved the conflict as well as decide the best option for project. However, when most of things reach agreement between stakeholders, the project will run fast and easy to achieve near ideal for both stakeholders.

When the project is completed, maintaining the interaction with the community is essential to continue to modify and complete the project. In the Walled Garden Project Prudhoe, there are so many conflicting opinions in each categories. Specifically, there are 27% who oppose housing community run and 56% who oppose the construction of children’s nursery (Prudhoe Community Partnership, n.d)

In conclusion, the stakeholder get a huge benefits. People are taking most of the stages of the project that they can raise awareness, to observe and evaluate the whole project in order to meet most of their needs. For the authorities and investment community interaction represents transparency, publicity, legitimacy, credibility in the community and help to better understand the complex issues of the community. (Queensland Government, 2011). However, to achieve the desired results and connect stakeholders requires a long process and patience with specific target groups in the community.

References

Prudhoe Community Partnership (n.d) A New Future of Prudhoe Walled Garden [online], Available from: http://prudhoewalledgarden.yolasite.com/resources/Prudhoe%20WG%20Report%20document%20FINAL.pdf [Accessed 5th January 2015].

Queensland Government (2011) Benefits and challenges for Government [online], Available from: http://www.qld.gov.au/web/community-engagement/guides-factsheets/introduction/benefits.html [Accessed 5th January 2015].

One thought on “Community engagement : Benefits and challenges

  1. Hi Tony, Community engagement is always helpful and important for urban design but lots of effort are always required to put in. Community engagement itself could clearly represent the local needs and assist the urban design and planning more efficient and better address the local issues.
    But from local residents aspects, the education level, or the participation level is always different but important. If we think back to South Shields, most of local residents might have problem to efficiently contribute on representing their demands. Also, they might not care the term, such as ‘urban agriculture’, ‘sustainability’, that designers and planner might use, but they care the words such as ‘job opportunities’, ‘social housing’. However, well educated people might care more and better participate in a development project with better representation of their needs. In such case, designers and planner might not only required to consider how to understand local demands from different representations but also to concern how to deliver the design propose to local people to let them understand. Therefore, communication skills on both language we use and diagrams we draw are especially important.

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