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Advancing Community Engagement

Whatever the problem, community is the answer

Berkana’s principles for action describe many ways to engage community. As bureaucracies and autocrats destroy potential and create angry, dependent people, community becomes the viable locus of change.

It is in community that we discover what people care about.

It is in community that we discover an abundance of leaders, people who are willing to step forward to serve.

It is in community that we reweave the frayed relationships, restoring health and possibility.

It is in community that we rediscover that nearly everybody wants to learn, contribute, belong, and work well together.

From the Four Directions: People Everywhere Leading the Way

We’d been working on community preparedness in anticipation of massive computer failures with Y2K. And we became allies with a global community of emerging leaders. In 2000, Berkana went global to train mostly younger leaders in how to host community conversations that would inspire people to engage as local leaders.

People from 30 countries were taught by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linea of PeerSpirit in the skills of hosting deep conversations. Hosts then convened on-going circles in their own communities. Through these conversations and relationships, many people stepped forward.

Berkana and PeerSpirit provided coaching, a resource kit, a newsletter, and regional gatherings. A worldwide web of people formed as a supportive community.

Relationships lead to new forms, new partners, new capabilities

The early 2000s was an inspiring time for the creation of new methods and initiatives that provided practices for engaging community. As friends and colleagues, we practiced what we preached—we wanted each of our different efforts to succeed because we knew the value of community-initiated change led by leaders-as-hosts.

The Art of Hosting and The World Café were two new endeavors with whom we enjoyed close connections and deep friendships. Some of the founders of Art of Hosting first worked together in Berkana’s From the Four Directions.

Berkana also partnered with Neighborhood Centers Inc. (now Baker-Ripley), based in Houston, to advance the practices that build healthy communities.