Questions change everything in community engagement

| Anna Eaton

We wanted to share a video that we really enjoyed watching last week about community engagement. This is a short TEDx Talk by experienced Community Engagement practioner and consultant Max Hardy. His talk is all about the importance of the questions we ask when working with communities. The role of different questions is a theme we’ve come across a lot this year!

As Max says: “Our questions for community engagement are often very, very ordinary and for that reason, the processes are fairly bumpy and communities are marketed to. Solutions are marketed”. This ‘bumpy’ process and selling of solutions is something we know many people will have come across in the UK.

Max uses a great story about working with a community living near a pipeline to explain how sometimes people can even find themselves selling a solution to a community about a problem that doesn’t even exist. Or at least, hasn’t been fully understood. He also challenges the idea that communities are a problem to be solved.

Questions are fateful

We like Max’s notion that the questions we ask around community engagement are “fateful”. They have the power to damage and polarises, and they also have the ability to engage and connect. By giving examples from his own work, Max demonstrates how asking different questions that don’t just sell solutions to communities, but asks people to be part of creative problem solving, are better for all parties involved. It’s a great watch for reminding ourselves that when we “ask a better question, communities come together”.

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