Community Building Techniques

Community Building Techniques

These techniques are centered around harvesting collective wisdom and shifting people into heart-centered conversations. They focus on creating deeper connections between participants and helping people move into reflective, non-judgmental conversations.

There is an abundance of wonderful methods and teachers to explore. The methods complement each other and can be integrated. You can use whichever best suits the moment. 

Here is a starter list.

  • Appreciative Inquiry – Jon Berghoff at XChange or David Cooperrider
  • World Cafe – website
  • Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) – Peter Block and John McKnight
  • Future Search

City-wide Conversations

Cities are experimenting with a deeper form of democracy by bringing a lot more people into conversations. The idea is to gain as much information from as many perspectives as possible. This allows us to see more, and at the same time, builds connections and inspires people to see how their voice and contributions matter.

For example, the city of Columbus, Ohio holds an annual event called Sustainable Cleveland that any citizen can attend. It is facilitated by Jon Berghoff of Xchange, who is one of the best facilitators I have experienced. Some people call a city wide process like this a charette. It can use one or more of the techniques described above.

Charrettes can be used for a variety of purposes. In the Columbus example, it is focused on sustainability. You might also consider them for

  • Setting community priorities
  • Defining what Wellbeing means to your community
  • Identifying the ideal values that drive the community
  • Dealing with an area of conflict


Meeting in person and forming joyful connections is ideal, but it can be hard to get people to commit due to the time and effort required. Community surveys can capture a wider audience than a charette.

Some innovative surveys being used are to identify what wellbeing means to people or what values matter most to them.

WEAll California’s Local Democracy Program

We work with city leaders to help them enhance their local projects to get people more involved in democratic and economic wellbeing programs.   If you are interested in finding more about this program for your city, please use the Contact Us Form to learn more.


  • Tom Atlee  blog post on Seeing the Whole
  • Peter Block – Community: The Structure of Belonging book 
  • Jon Berghoff – Podcast episode – 4 Questions That Will Change Your Life