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civic engagement community engagement engagement personal engagement student engagement youth engagement

Engage Everyone, Everywhere, All the Time

Photo by  mikedugeniohansen on Flickr. All rights reserved.

Since the turn of the millennium there have been an increasing number of individuals and organizations sounding the clarion call for engagement. Demanding that we emerge from our self-inflicted drunken-like apathetic slumber, we’re called to “get involved”, “do something”, and “make a difference” in all sorts of ways focused on politics, the environment, the economy, education, faith communities, the Internet, and countless other places. 

Acting on a type of hierarchical insistence, a peculiar noblesse oblige motivates most of these demands. Well-meaning engagement advocates believe they know what the world needs, and according to them, the world needs YOU. Glaring from all their ads, websites, editorials, and other publicity campaigns is the implication that if you were engaged in their topic/issue/action/orientation/idea then the world would be a better place.

Unfortunately, this widespread perspective is cynically dismissive of the engagements people already have in their lives. It patently denies that the things people are currently engaged in are valuable and important, or that they have a larger role in the health and welfare of society. There is a unacknowledged conceit within many community engagement programs, and no matter how well-intended they are they simply deny what individuals are bringing to the table, every single day in every single way.

I think our work needs to aspire to engage everyone, everywhere, all the time. I’m interested in seeing poor people, stay-at-home moms, prisoners, mail clerks, and patients live engaged, as well as youth, students, grandparents, and poets. We all have the capacity to become sustainably connected throughout all of our lives all of the time, no matter who we are, where we’re from, or how we live. Life should be no less than this.

CommonAction staff are available to train on personal engagement, Heartspace, and much more. Contact Adam Fletcher to discuss opportunities for your community, organization, or agency by emailing adam@commonaction.org or calling (360) 489-9680.


Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

By Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

One reply on “Engage Everyone, Everywhere, All the Time”

Thank you. I so agree. It seems everyone everywhere are pulling people in out of their “uninspired” lives to take some kind of stand for the world without acknowledgement of who they are and how they ARE contributing to their communities. I missed your proposal to the solution though. How do deserving, well-meaning and effective advocates for the world attract people to help their cause? There are countless of examples of those who took the challenge of taking one of these projects and now live very enriching lives. Many people are “serving” out of obligation and/or association without a sense of connection or fulfillment. If we begin by acknowledging ourselves for who we are and who we are impacting right now, I think it will go a long way in helping us see how to expand ourselves to positively impact more people and the world. The most effective and inspirational people are those who are simply doing what they naturally love.

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