Action Step 1: Assemble the Community Team
Action Step 1, assembling a community team, starts the commitment phase of the community change process. Representation from diverse sectors is key to successful teamwork, enables easy and accurate data-collection, and enables data assessment, which is the next phase of the community change process. All members of the community team should play an active role in the assessment process, from recommending sites within the sectors, to identifying the appropriate data-collection method. This process also ensures the community team has equitable access to and informed knowledge of the process, thereby solidifying their support. Consider the makeup of the community team (10-12 individuals maximum is desirable to ensure the size is manageable and to account for attrition of members). Include key decision-makers — the CEO of a work site or the superintendent of the school board—to diversify the team and utilize the skill sets of all involved.
Consider the following points when forming your community team:
- Set the tone by defining the purpose of the team.
- Define the community capacity of the team and identify potential barriers to success.
- Ensure that activities focus on policy, systems, and environmental change.
- Clarify the mission of the team.
- Include representatives of all identified stakeholder groups; community representation is key.
- Formalize rules, roles, procedures, and responsibilities (e.g., bylaws, standard operating procedures, goals and objectives, memoranda of understanding).
- Raise community awareness of the team and the issues it is addressing.
- Generate additional funds to support the community team.
- Community teams must provide benefits (e.g., solidarity, appreciation, evidence of impact) that exceed costs (e.g., time, frustration) to sustain membership and momentum.
- Assign tasks based on skills and available resources.
Possible Elements of a Community Team
When focusing on policy, consider talking with high-level decision-makers. However, be mindful that staff and employees at all levels of the organization may be able to provide useful information. Consider who in the community functions as a gatekeeper of information. Note the selection of community members. This list is not exhaustive; form the team with a selection of individuals that can appropriately support the team’s needs.