Facilitation for Community Engagement

An engaged community is crucial to a healthy democracy, but leading effective community conversations about difficult issues can be tough — and when public meetings go badly, they can generate mistrust, polarization, and stagnation.

From questions about a public art to conflicts over racial and ethnic differences, our framework has been used to improve social cohesion, collect valuable community input, and encourage the mutual trust that is a precondition to solving problems in a democracy.

This workshop helps participants apply Essential Partners’ Reflective Structured Dialogue framework to design community meetings and facilitate constructive public conversations about difficult and divisive issues.


  • To learn how EP’s Reflective Structured Dialogue framework can support more constructive public engagement;
  • To apply EP’s dialogue framework to design constructive meetings that address significant differences within a community;
  • To practice methods of speaking, listening, and asking questions that foster more productive public engagement;
  • To learn to intervene during particularly difficult or heated moments.

As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Design a productive public discussion of divisive community problems;
  • Manage challenging moments with more confidence;
  • Diffuse “us” vs. “them” dynamics in a public setting;
  • Foster a more resilient community that embraces its differences and diversity of views.

Who might participate:

  • Elected officials and candidates
  • Campaign staff and organizers
  • Municipal employees
  • Civic leaders and advocates
  • Nonprofit managers
  • Clergy and lay religious leaders
  • Community engagement professionals


For more information, please contact us at training@whatisessential.org or 617-923-1216 ext. 10.

Workshop policies

Upcoming Workshops

August 23, 2019
186 Alewife Brook Parkway, Suite 212, Cambridge, MA 02138
Regular fee
Early Bird Special:
Register with a Friend:



Preparation and Purpose, Meeting Design, Role Play/Simulation, Small Group Exercises


Excellent practical knowledge. I feel knowledgeable enough about this to really use it and not have it sitting on the shelf.