A Community-Driven Model for Public Media

Nonprofit tech blogger Amy Sample Ward‘s latest contribution to the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog focuses on how libraries can operate as community-driven organizations, allowing these valuable institutions to innovate, as she puts it, “at the speed of communities.” Reading through her post, replace “libraries” with “public media” and her thinking resonates just as strongly.

Ward is getting at a key idea for community engagement: collaboration between local organizations and the communities they serve can work best when those institutions are focused on the community, and move with it over time. Organizations, she points out, “can provide the map, the gas, and even the car, but the community needs to be the driver. That will ensure passion and impact can go into steering, knowledge can help guide the way, and if no one wants to drive you have a pretty clear answer to adoption!”

Public Media’s Place in Convening Community

There’s a great story out of Jacksonville, Florida recently announced by the the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, in which 14 area non-profits came together to share resources to achieve a collective goal of combating hunger in their community. In this case, the DuPont fund convened these organizations to have them share their best thinking on the needs of the community, and the needs of each organization. According to the Fund’s announcement: “Despite the similarity of their mission and clientele, the representatives of these organizations had never sat around a table with one another. They worked, in some cases, just blocks apart, but did not know one another.” Then, together, they were able to take action.

What are the chances there are similar circumstances in your community? Could public media play the role of the convener? Absolutely. A good starting point could be to map your network, as we wrote about in a previous blog post. What do you learn about the relationships you’ve built, the resources provided by your network, and where are there opportunities to increase connections?

The activities the DuPont Fund engaged in with this project map closely to the Community Engagement Framework (those elements that we believe lead to successful public media community engagement efforts). We have multiple resources on our site to help you accomplish the work of convening your community, from how to host leadership summits to info on improving community partnerships – and much more. Have a great story about how your station has been a community convener? Share it by adding it to our Stories of Impact on PublicMediaMaps.org!