“To begin, we were just little. We were temporary shelter—an oasis. Sanctuary for women and kids who were homeless. And, we had the space, and the goal was just to provide some safety and community for people who were pretty isolated. And it was pretty dark times for them. Some people assume that the problems of the inner city can be solved by getting rid of the inner city people. And we had learned before that the people weren’t the problem, the people were the solution.”
The more we all know each other, the more possibilities we are building.
Hope Youth Listening Project. Photo: Bruce Silcox
Community listening allows us to translate voice into action and better harness the collective power of people for change. We have invested deeply in our Community Listening model that creates opportunities for relational community dialogues. Today, over 4,000 people have been involved in small formal and informal dialogues through Hope’s Community Listening process. Our approach to Hope’s Community Engagement work emerges from our Listening as people tell us what kind of change they want to see in their lives and for their children.
The Power of Dialogue
Our relational approach to organizing Community Listening sessions gets diverse people to the table: people participate more when they are asked by others they trust. They come together to talk in groups, meeting their neighbors and breaking down the barriers and stereotypes between them.
In Listening sessions we support people to “go deep;” that is, that they share their hopes, dreams, fears, opinions, ideas and values about life in the community. We are not seeking answers but rather asking people to share experiences and raise questions by telling stories and reflecting on their lives and their visions for the future.
Community Listening is built on our history and strengths and has had major impact throughout the organization. The concepts of Listening and relating are practiced daily at all levels of staff, formally and informally, in group settings, and in one-on-one meetings. Ultimately, we believe that our relationships on all levels are at the center of strong community.