2020 Review: Lessons Learned in Community Engagement to help you Succeed in 2021


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eDemocracy Webinar Series - Social

Webinar Summary 

Click here to read our speakers' bios. 

4:04 - Host, Andrea Reimer Introduces the topic of the webinar, as an opportunity to talk with guest speakers from previous webinars this year, and find out what they’ve learned about community engagement over this unprecedented year, and lessons they’ll bring into 2021.

4:14 - Andrea Reimer introduces the panelists.

5:43 - The first polling question of the Webinar - “What one word comes into mind when you think about engagement with the public tis past year?”

7:52 - Mayor Rebecca Alty discusses methods she found particularly useful amid the “noise” of the pandemic stress, and related challenges - specifically community mobilizers - at engaging with members of the community in a more effective way than government officials.

9:16 - Mayor Alty recalls the accumulation of bigger “crowds” to online events, and larger turn-outs than the local government was used to seeing, due to their ability to advertise events on social media, and meet community members were they already were - online.

12:13 - Mayor Alty summarizes 2020 as a year of “accelerated lessons”, quickly learning to use new platforms to find new ways of interacting with and communicating with others.

16:16 - Councilor Daniel Lee echoes the point made by Mayor Alty, mentioning that their online meetings also brought in larger turn-outs than pre-pandemic, open forums. “I feel like one of the lessons for us is to try to see if we can have some type of hybrid way to interact with people so that once it is safe to have in meetings in person, we will of course have them in person, but if there’s a better way to do the online element that makes people feel like they can actually be involved, we need to work towards that.”

23:45 - Andrea Reimer introduces the second poll of the webinar - “Which of the following best describes how you feel about online engagement?”

27:51 - Councillor Christine Boyle affirms Councilor Lee’s coining of a “hybrid” method of engagement in the future, to combine the benefits of both online and in-person engagement.

28:18 - Councillor Boyle notes one of the biggest lessons and important areas for growth, is addressing the clear language barrier that exists in community engagement, and a recognized “need for disaggregated data, for better understanding of impact issues on different communities”

31:48 - Councillor Lee speaks to the frustration of wanting to discuss important, polarizing issues, whilst ensuring meetings remain accessible to those with time constraints.

33:33 - Peter MacLeod speaks to his biggest 2020 engagement takeaway which focuses on how the pandemic has shown the importance of in-person engagement, and really helped to push an evolution in how many places are empowering their citizens to have a say.

“There was a lot of activity in the early days of COVID about pushing stuff online as quickly as possible, and as your poll has just demonstrated, it’s had a positive effect in terms of accelerating the use of technology, but people are also really looking forward to getting back together on the other side of this as well.”

35:10 - Peter MacLeod speaks to the missed opportunities for using engagement to harness public learning and public mobilization during the pandemic.

“During COVID, the Federal Government, early on, asked Canadians ‘Would you volunteer to help with contact tracing?’ More than fifty thousand Canadians volunteered, and yet somehow, we’re nine months into the pandemic and the federal government has never called on the services of those fifty thousand Canadians to do more than stay home and stay on the couch.”

39:03 - What John Richardson has seen at Ethelo over the past year is an increased scrutiny about the quality of participation in online engagements, and more strategies to reach a more inclusive, representative sample.

46:24 - Mayor Alty speaks to how you engage community champions, and how you map out stakeholders who deserve a say in community issues.

49:58 - What lesson is Councilor Lee bringing into 2021 about communicating the urgency of climate change in their work?

54:00 - The panelists explain their hopes for 2021: that we have learned the importance of interdependence in systemic change, that we can become more dynamic at digital engagement; that we will purposefully working towards a hybrid model of engagement, and that democracy will evolve to work better in between elections.

Christine talks about her hopes for 2021. “My hope is that one of the lessons we’ve learned out of the pandemic is about our interdependence, about how actually we’re all less healthy and safe if any folks among us are not healthy or not safe”.

58:50 - Peter and John gives their hopes for the next year.

1:00:00 - Closing notes from Meagan, and an introduction to an exciting public survey: the eDemocracy Network survey. 


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