Community engagement. What is it? How do you do it? What comes from it? These are the questions many of our investors have been pondering over the course of our campaign, and for some, their whole careers are based on this very thing called ‘community engagement’. Local councils battle with it, property developers struggle to embrace it, even the community itself often finds it difficult to articulate this thing called community engagement. When to start, when to end, how often, where and who, etc.?

At Food Connect, we’ve always placed community at the heart of our business model. It makes doing business a bit more cumbersome and slow, however, the long term rewards have proven that a business that is deeply embedded in its community tends to last the test of time.

We’ve never really had a formula for doing this. We’ve just encouraged staff, farmers and customers to come up with ideas and, where resources and time allow, test them out. Some ideas fail. Some ideas take off and are still in use today. The point is, giving it a go and not placing too much emphasis on the outcome because it’s the PROCESS that provides the juice – the connections, conversations, heartache and challenges. Being human – the whole spectrum of being human – and providing a safe space for that to happen – has been the biggest reward.

Now, you can put this in a framework, and local community group, Imagine Moorooka are doing just that. Last weekend we donated the warehouse space for a group of nearly 30 locals to participate in the Bank of Ideas workshop, Asset Based Community Development, presented by Californian-based expert, Ron Dwyer Voss. Here’s an interview by Paul Bishop on the day. Listen to his answer to the question of how to scale community action in the era of the anthropocene (at around the 6 min mark).

Ron Dwyer-Voss with Paul Bishop on Community Empowerment from Paul Bishop on Vimeo.

It was a pleasure to host this event, and we hope the Shed can offer community groups many more opportunities to plan their future together and spread the love.