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Facilitation can be a powerful tool to help build community and address pressing and relevant issues. Public processes, by their nature, will often involve diverse perspectives that can make it very difficult to unite the group. Still, through a guided process of dialogue, sharing information, and making a decision, a common purpose can usually be found.
Indeed, facilitated processes can produce greater understanding and participation, and will sometimes aid in resolving longstanding conflict and help a community move towards consensus. Even where the conflict remains unresolved, there can be a positive outcome, because community members are able to participate and have their voices heard.
Better Decisions, Together is practical facilitation guide, examining the need for citizen engagement and explaining how conflict may be harnessed as a positive force for change. The authors share facilitation strategies that have been proven to work well at the community level, along with practical suggestions for constructively engaging the community.
Communities are an interconnected web of relationships between individuals, businesses, and different groups of people, as well as between the public and government officials – including both staff and politicians. Facilitation can help to bring these various stakeholders together, foster dialogue, and encourage understanding. When facilitators “get it right,” the process can also contribute to more informed and democratic decision making in the community.
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