Workshop teaches methods for community engagement

(November 2012) A Participatory Methods for Engaging Communities (PMEC) workshop was recently held at the JAARS campus in Waxhaw, North Carolina, USA. PMEC workshops help participants to work more collaboratively with colleagues, teammates, partners, or other groups with common interests. These methods are useful for developing comprehensive impact strategies and communities of practice, for team building in partnerships and for carrying out language development and community development projects.

The methods introduced in the PMEC workshop were born of development work focused on cooperation with community stakeholders to achieve sustainable community transformation.The two-week workshop provided many learning opportunities for participants, including:

  • growing in understanding of what participatory methods are and why they are useful;
  • practice of basic facilitation skills (listening well, drawing out people’s thoughts, beginning to interact with a group for the first time, etc.);
  • observation of participatory tools/methods in use;
  • practice in facilitating participatory tools/methods, with feedback from experienced workshop leaders;
  • assessing which tool is appropriate for a given situation;
  • adapting tools to fit specific contexts; and
  • developing plans to lead participatory discussions.

workshop participants interact PMEC participants honed team-building skills in group exercises. The workshop also provided opportunity to reflect, plan and discuss with colleagues.

Feedback from attendees:

“The community group facilitations were great for gaining confidence, and also for wrestling with how these tools can be useful in real situations.”

“Experiencing a “messy” facilitation [exercise] helped me to know how to…live with failure without being destroyed by it."

“The workshop underscored the high value of working with a partner or team.”

“The workshop showed me that I can teach/facilitate effectively, and how to do it.”

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