What Makes Community Engagement Authentic?

Many of us have seen our share of faux engagement in communities. People labelled as authorities and officials invite people to give voice to their disempowerment. This makes people feel and function more disengaged because they are not invited as empowered adults, but as dependents pleading to empowered parent figures. Two things make community engagement authentic: education and empowerment, measured precisely by what people actually do after these events and processes.

Authentically engaged people do two things. 

They actively learn more about the assets of the community, rather than wallow in its deficiencies. And they engage and connect these assets to start new projects, initiatives, relationships, programs, crowdsourcing and businesses. These reflect authentic engagement. Not going home with fragile hope that someone will finally save them from inconsolable victimhood, but rather thriving at the intersections of social, imaginative and economic capital.