Building a Vibrant Community – Think Inclusion!
Inclusion means giving everyone a seat at the table AND giving them an active role in building a vibrant community. Inclusion has many community benefits.
When only one community segment is active, it creates a sense of “haves” and “have nots” or winners and losers. This can breed a culture of competition rather than cooperation.
Attracts New Businesses.
New talent and new businesses feel welcome in an atmosphere were all voices are heard.
New networks and different team combinations bring new skills, experiences, and perspectives. Old problems get a fresh look and solutions are found.
Promotes equality and stability.
Growth happens throughout the community, rather than in certain sections. The comment – a rising tide raises all boat – is evident when everyone is provided an opportunity.
When everyone is included in community development, each group takes pride and ownership in the process. Everyone gains an understanding that improvements will directly benefit them as well as their neighbors.
When economic opportunities are available, criminal activities decreases. When citizens are included and engaged in the process of governing, they are more likely to follow the rules.
The benefits of inclusion are many and are obvious. Building cooperation and understanding within the community can be challenging. Considerations in building inclusion are:
Do the homework.
Learn the community history and who live there. What is important to each group – quality of life, safe streets, education, opportunities. What are the ‘burning platforms” that will move people to action?
Go where the people are.
A community meeting in the City Building will often attract the same group or people. Look for different venues to attract a broader cross section of the community.
Create early participation.
Give everyone a voice and an opportunity to participate in the process. This will reduce early mistakes and will often provide a more accurate picture of the situation.
Commit to Trust.
Trust develops over time and is achieved by following through on promises and commitments.
Ensure equal treatment.
Engage everyone in inclusive efforts. Eliminate prejudices from all groups within the community.
Celebrate collective actions.
Accomplishments, no matter how small, are accomplishments. Celebrate. Let everyone know that the community is paying attention.
Building inclusive communities is not easy. It happens at multiple levels: institutions, cultural groups, individuals. You cannot expect to see results happen overnight. Transforming attitudes and behaviors takes time and patience, but it is worth the effort to create a community where we want to live, work, play and stay.
This article follows the concepts outline in a book entitled “Building a Vibrant Community” written by Quint Studer. Compliments of Tygart Valley Orthopedics, the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber has free copies of the book available to those who are interested.