This semester, our Environmental Engagement class has been focused on working with various partnership organizations local to Oregon. We’ve done research on our organizations and discussed how their work helps to promote engagement. My group’s partnership is with Healthy Democracy, an organization that hosts discussion events with the goal of promoting citizens’ discourse and providing accurate information to voters. As the semester nears its end, our work has moved towards creating an engagement project proposal that would be executed at some point in the future. Our project is about trying to reduce the divide between rural and urban Oregonians by hosting discussions about environmental policy and encouraging a dialogue. We’ve done posts about the What, the Who, and the How of the project. Now it’s time to look at the input of our project so far, as well as a way to receive feedback in the future.
During a group activity during class, our group received feedback on a few of our previous posts discussing our proposal. For example, on the How post, we discuss how the objective is to create a dialogue between rural and urban Oregonians, but we did not explain how we would facilitate this discussion. It was recommended that we have a set of guiding questions to start the conversation and make sure it stayed focused. Additionally, it was noted by a classmate that trying to combine virtual and in-person engagement was difficult, so perhaps another method of including participants who don’t have Internet access will be necessary. Also elaborating on how our group plans to reach out to recruit participants is necessary. The likely solution is to advertise on social media for urban citizens and a more direct approach for rural citizens.
Obviously the project may not be perfect by the time our group has finished the proposal, which is why having more input from peers and faculty can be helpful. One possible way we could receive feedback is through our school email since it is easy to reach. Sending out an email to fellow ENVS students would be a good way to advertise the project and allow for peer review. Contacting faculty in the ENVS program would also get input from professors who are well versed in engagement. One step we’ve already taken towards getting feedback is contacting Robin Teater, the executive director of Healthy Democracy. Her input would be valuable because she has experience with hosting engagement events and could offer helpful critiques to our proposal.