Adapting to Your Audience

Last week, I sat with our community organizers and taught the Collective Decision Making process. This is yet another tool we use in working with communities, one that involves allowing discussion and dialogue to create a path forward. It is a rather simple, yet complicated process that involves determining how decisions are to be made, creating criteria, brainstorming, narrowing down ideas, and final votes. The community organizers are using this tool to work with the community stakeholders to facilitate a decision about what issue/initiative they wanted to focus on.

As we sat at the table and discussed how the organizers have used this in past forums, and what needed to be changed for future forums, one of the complications that continued to pop up was people not understanding certain words: initiative, criteria, brainstorm and others. Which meant the organizers spent a lot of time explaining what these words meant, trying to translate them directly. Listening to them discuss this problem, I paused the organizers, and we stepped back and worked on explaining and going through the process in simple terms, translating it to Swahili. We learned the word criteria is not important, but the concepts behind it are what really matter.

Working in communities is all about adapting to the audience, shaping the program so that it gives everyone the opportunity to participate. It is incredible to watch this adaptation go on, and know that it could be done again and again in different communities around the world.

– Sarah Welch, Co-Founder Tatua Kenya


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