From Community Engagement to Ownership: Tools for the Field with Case studies of Four Municipal Community-Driven Environmental and Racial Equity Committees

Organizational Author Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), Facilitating Power, Movement Strategy Center, National Association of Climate Resilience Planners
Date Published 11/7/2022
Resource Type Toolkit
Tags Organizing

Resource Summary

Recognizing the importance of collaborative governance in reducing inequities as a result of climate vulnerability, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network gave the Innovation Fund Project grant to four municipal community-based committees for racial equity and environmental justice. They were funded to learn and evaluate the collaboration process between community-based committees and the local governments utilizing the spectrum of community engagement to ownership (spectrum) as a tool to analyze the case studies. The four case studies include the Equity Working Group in Portland, the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee in Providence, the Environmental Justice Committee in Seattle, and the Equity Advisory Group for Ward 7 in Washington DC. The four groups contracted with Facilitating Power (FP), Movement Strategy Center (MSC), and the National Association of Climate Resilience Planners to establish an evaluation process of collaborative governance. After conducting surveys and in-person interviews, the research indicates that all four cases are still at level two (consult) on a scale of five on the spectrum. While some have shown the potential of moving toward level three (community involvement), none of these cases have arrived at level four (collaborative governance). Building on the findings and the spectrum, the project further suggests a learning and evaluation tool for assessing the process of collaborative governance.

The spectrum of community engagement to ownership is a tool to assess the degree of community engagement occurring within a process. It was developed by Rosa Gonzalez of FP in collaboration with MSC, in part drawing on content from several public participation tools, including Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation and the Public Participation Spectrum created by the International Association for Public Participation. The tool serves four purposes:

1. Acknowledge marginalization as the status quo
2. Assert a clear vision
3. Articulate a developmental process
4. Assess community participation efforts

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