Putting community engagement in the neighbourhood of good policy

Imagine you’re a philanthropist with a big pot of money and a pressing social problem you’d like to solve in your city. You gather all the best academic knowledge on the topic, employ an army of consultants to design a cutting-edge solution, and announce the initiative to great fanfare on live television. So far so good, right?

Well, if your philanthropic policy-making forgot to talk to the people who might actually be affected, you could find it does a whole lot more harm than good.

Such top-down approaches to policy are all too common – and it’s partly because involving the community in decision-making can be difficult and time-consuming. On this week’s podcast, hosts Martyn Pearce and Sue Regan hear from Paul Schmitz, one of America’s most influential non-profit leaders and an expert in community engagement. Topics discussed include the best and the worst cases of community involvement in public policy, how to know whose voices to listen to, and why poor people might be experts on escaping poverty. Listen here:

Paul Schmitz is Senior Advisor at The Collective Impact Forum and the first Innovation Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Innovation and Impact.

He is recognised as one of America’s most influential non-profit leaders; writes and speaks frequently on social innovation, civic participation, diversity, and community building; and has served on President Obama’s transition team and the White House Council on Community Solutions.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

The Prize by Dale Russakoff

Too close to home: Why does Australia still struggle with homelessness? with James O’Donnell

Impact made easy with Mark Reed

An extraordinary use of power by Marianne Dickie

Water waste: the dangerous paradox of irrigation efficiency with Sarah Wheeler and Quentin Grafton

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunesStitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or find us on Facebook.

This episode of Policy Forum Pod was written and produced by Martyn Pearce and Nicky Lovegrove.

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