Community engagement increases trust and respect amongst members and the organization and is key to understanding different perspectives. Developing community ownership and involvement in all decisions is essential to a successful outcome.
In order to ensure full community participation, Zone 3 community members are currently involved in general meetings, one on one interviews, focus groups and meetings with potential donors. We have also formed a Community collaborative which is a community body that helps us run community meetings, raise funds and make decisions on our programming in Zone 3.
Planting Seeds hosts community meetings every 3 months to stay in touch with community needs and involve families as much as we can in the programs and our development. Our Community Collaborative helps us plan the meetings, spread the word to families, and facilitate the meetings. We had over 100 community members attend our last meeting and share their thoughts about the future of Planting Seeds!
The Planting Seeds Collaborative is one of the most important initiatives Planting Seeds has. It is an open group of community members who come together once a month to take more ownership of Planting Seeds’ initiatives in Zone 3. The community collaborative helps host community meetings, receives training and professional development to better lead in their colonias, helps raise funds for Planting Seeds’ community initiatives and are involved in important decisions surrounding the future of Planting Seeds. We believe that in order to be a community based organization, community members need to be involved not just in the programs but in the decision making of what the organization does in their community.
This year the collaborative is excited to host community fairs, raise money for the community center and start community clean-ups!
Our first focus group is underway! We have developed a Land Focus Group to help us purchase the land for our community center. Members have searched for spaces, met with owners, lead group meetings, negotiated prices, and developed action plans moving forward. We plan to implement multiple focus groups to utilize the knowledge and talent of the community members of Zone 3.
Community interviews have provided Planting Seeds with a more personal assessment of the community. We conducted over 50 interviews to complete our investigation where community members shared their views about what existed and what is needed in the community. Four main themes came through in a majority of interviews. The need for education, community involvement, support for parents, and safe places to keep youth off the street. We continue to do community interviews as we implement new programs to meet the needs of the community.