City Approach Community Dialogue Outline
STEP 1: COMMUNITY DIALOGUE TOPIC SELECTION
The IMLS Advisory Team and the Immigrant Advisory Group (IAG) had many planning meetings concerning the first Community Dialogue. In mid-July 2011, a three-hour sample dialogue workshop was held, attended by approximately twenty-five IAG members and others. The purpose was to provide participants with a hands-on experience of what the Community Dialogue model process looks like.
Later that month, a brainstorming discussion took place at the IAG meeting to begin to identify possible topics for the first Community Dialogue. In September, project staff developed a Survey Monkey that was emailed out to a broad community mailing list to generate additional input on possible topics. The survey was completed by over 100 people. A special effort was made to have both immigrants and non-immigrants complete the survey. It was essential to the process to arrive at a topic about which both groups were passionate.
Based on the brainstorming discussion and the survey results, it was decided to focus the first Community Dialogue on the topic of Education & Employment which was later narrowed down to Adult Learning.
STEP 2: KICKOFF EVENT & RECRUITMENT OF DIALOGUE PARTICIPANTS
A kickoff event was coordinated to help call attention to the Community Dialogues, build enthusiasm, and recruit participants for the dialogue. The event was picked up by the local media, which drew approximately 100 people. Guest speakers included City Mayor, Pedro Segarra.
STEP 3: COMMUNITY DIALOGUES
Sixty participants were recruited and organized into seven dialogue groups, which convened at Hartford Public Library Downtown branch, aside from one which met at the Center for Adult Education in Hartford (CAEH). Over half of the dialogue participants were service providers or adult learning advocates and over a third of the participants were foreign born. The group at CAEH was entirely made up of immigrants. The dialogues were held for four consecutive weeks for 2 hours each; many people were unable to make such a large time commitment to the dialogues. Dialogue facilitators were also recruited from the Kickoff event and had to attend an 8-hour facilitator training led by Everyday Democracy. Both facilitators and participants received a guide prepared by a working committee composed of project and Everyday Democracy staff and IAG members.
STEP 4: ACTION FORUM
The dialogues ran for throughout the month of April 2012. After the dialogues finished, an action forum was organized for May 15, 2012, to present the action ideas decided by the seven dialogue groups. The purpose of this event was to establish action groups to move some of these ideas forward as well as to encourage participants to stay involved. Again just over 100 people attended the event and from this event, four distinct action groups were established.
These groups will focus on action agenda centered on four themes:
Barriers to access and addressing stereotypes
Accreditation and licensing
Coordination of services and opportunities
Supporting formal and informal networks
The coordination of these group participants has been difficult, primarily due to time and schedules. Also, relationships and momentum that had been established during the dialogues could not be perpetuated as original dialogue groups were split up to form action groups. Under the guidance of Everyday Democracy and the Hartford Public Library, action groups will receive support however the intention is for action groups to move forward independently.
STEP 5: ACTION GROUPS
Since June 2012, the four action group met regularly and have progressed towards action. In December 2012, these four groups met at Hartford Public Library to give updates on their progress. The Coordination of Services and Opportunities action group's mission "to facilitate the creation and use of user-friendly, comprehensive database of adult learning resources for Hartford’s diverse community" has led to a focus on KeyTrain and a Learner's Web concept. The Formal and Informal Networks action group is focusing its efforts on a language and culture learning exchange in the form of a time bank. In this member-led community network exchange, members would earn, bank, and spend time credits as the exchange of services takes place. The group has examined other time banks and is looking at how to implement one in the Hartford community. The Accreditation and Licensing action group has held two focus groups to interview foreign students who have dealt with issues of college degrees and credits from different countries. Due to limited participation, the Barriers to Access action group is planning to join forces with the other groups.
A website has been created to facilitate communication between the four groups as well as to post information about each Action Group's progress such as meeting notes and important resource information. Click here to view this site and to learn more.
For more information or to join an action group, contact Richard Frieder at (860) 695-6365 or email@example.com.