Sustainability at the community level refers to the ability of a community to meet its present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This involves creating strategies for sustainable habits within the community. Organization and public participation are needed when balancing economic, social, and environmental factors to create a resilient, equitable, and livable community.
A sustainable community promotes a culture of conservation and responsible consumption while fostering economic growth and social inclusion. However, bringing onboard the community and employees when implementing a project promoting sustainability takes work. Here are 6 community engagement strategies you can use to encourage community members to join these noble initiatives.
Provide Accurate Information
Knowledge is power. Most people are reluctant to join a sustainability project because they don’t understand what it’s all about and the short and long-term benefits. Changing people’s perceptions starts by providing accurate information about the ins and outs of the project.
Start with a pilot program. Use the pilot program results to understand the people’s needs and expectations. The results achieved will also help you develop a long-term community engagement plan.
Involve Community Leaders
Community leaders are the decision-makers. They can create strategies for sustainable habits because the community trusts them, and most perceive their recommendations as the best as they are based on people’s inherent interests. If they endorse your proposed sustainable behaviors, they will likely join the bandwagon with some persuasion and lure more people.
Thus, involving them in the sustainability project planning and execution phases will help you achieve the set goals and objectives. The leaders can be part of the organizing committee or distant but actively involved in the sensitization activities.
Give People Enough Time to Understand the Information
Providing the necessary information is one facet; ensuring they understand the information is a different ball game. Please provide all the materials and strategies they need to fully understand the benefits of changing from the norms to the proposed sustainable habits.
The human brain is wired to process visuals better and more efficiently than blocks of text. Based on this fact, it’s a good idea to use as visuals and video content as possible to highlight the benefits of the projects.
For instance, if you recommend a new waste management system, use realistic examples and illustrations to encourage people to embrace it. Concisely, positive messages are more effective in spurring engagement and action than gloom and doom messages.
Give Them a Chance to Participate
Now that they have a good grasp of your strategies for sustainable habits and why they should change, the next crucial step is allowing participation. People want to be involved in noble projects and initiatives that impact their lives positively.
There is no cap on what participation entails. It can be simple acts such as sharing information, attending community outreach walks, and giving talks in seminars. Usually, participation results in positive attitudes. Activities such as group meetings bring innovative ideas to make your sustainability project successful.
Take Baby Steps
Like in business, it’s wise to test the waters before investing thousands of dollars in a project you are not sure will be embraced by the target audience. We humans don’t like change, especially if it turns our lives upside down.
Your community will quickly get overwhelmed and discouraged from being part of the sustainable project if the change is significant and introduced sporadically. Avoid this by introducing the proposed sustainable habits in small manageable, and digestible bits.
Concisely, gradually introducing new habits and initiatives will give people ample time and space to adapt and adjust accordingly. Monitor the response at each stage to know if you are headed in the right direction or need to tweak some strategies to get better results.
Use Rewards Sparingly
Rewards are widely used to introduce new projects and products into the market. Though they work, they should be used sparingly when introducing new sustainability habits in the community or business.
One of the downsides of using rewards as the primary driving force is that community members stop the proposed habits when no more rewards are offered. Understand that tips offer extrinsic motivation, which is temporary.
It would be best if you focused on creating intrinsic motivation. This form of inspiration is deeply rooted in their beliefs and personalities. It’s more long-lasting.
Spurring community engagement when introducing new sustainability habits doesn’t have to be stressful and tedious. Apply the above hacks and watch your community change its ways to environmentally conscious practices. It’s possible to break the glass ceiling if you have the right mindset toward the process, be open-minded, and learn from the mistakes you make along the way.