Community Conversation #1

Conversation One - Focus on the Eight Characteristics

Community members begin a conversation about the future based on the eight ECAP characteristics.

  • Get to know each other, begin to communicate values and build trust through active listening to each other.
  • Gain a general understanding of the eight ECAP characteristics
  • Understand how the community views itself related to the ECAP characteristics.
Preparations for all meetings:
To engage the community, market in a variety of ways and send reminders.
Schedule the meetings in advance-ideally two weeks apart for 2 1/2 hours at a time. Engaging the community takes time.
Set-up Materials: flip charts, easels, projector, computer, name badges/plates, tape, pens, sign-in sheets, eight characteristics handouts
Name plates are one way to create a reminder to ground rules to participate

Community Development Academy Principles of Dialogue:

  • Listen to understand
  • Assume good intentions
  • Participate fully 
  • Focus on opportunities
  • Expect unfinished business

For more information:
Bushe, G. Clear Leadership: How Outstanding Leaders Make Themselves Understood, Cut Through the Mush, and Help Everyone Get Real at Work. 2001. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black publishing.
Dukes, E.F., M.A. Piscolish, & J.B. Stephens. Reaching Higher Ground in Conflict Resolution: Tools for Powerful Groups and Communities. 2000. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Welcome and Introductions
  • Ice Breaker -- Ask community members:
    • How long have you lived in the community?
    • What motivated you to attend the meeting?
  • Establish ground rules - will help guide the conversations. Share the suggested ground rules and ask for other suggestions.

Understanding the Values and Strengths of the Community
Ask each person to share the following:

  • What do you like about living in the community?
  • What do you believe are your communities' values?
  • What are your communities strengths?

Two approaches to this activity dependent upon the size of the group:

  • Option A: have each person write down what they like about living in the community and the communities’ strengths and values. In the large group, ask individuals to share one item at a time. Go around the room until completed.
  • Option B: In small tables, have each person write down what they like about living in the community and the communities’ strengths and values. At the tables, ask individuals to share one idea at a time to capture all of the ideas. Go around the table until completed. Then, report back to larger group, one idea at a time.
  • Option C: Time Needed: 15-20 minutes. Gets everyone engaged quickly and talking one on one. Individuals ask a series of questions with a different partner each time. Between each question, ask each person to write down what response

ECAP Characteristics, Briefly explain the ECAP characteristics and then break into eight small groups (if there are enough participants) each representing a characteristic.

Ask the following questions:
  • How would the characteristics build vitality in your community?
  • How could this characteristic be strengthened in your community/region?
  • If your community was known as being strong in this characteristic, what would others from outside the community see?

Each characteristic group will report back to the larger group.


  • Each group should have roughly equal numbers of participants. Assignments to groups may be necessary to achieve this. If there are not enough participants to break into 8 groups, small groups will need to discuss more than one characteristic, making sure all are covered.
  • Provide the written questions to each participant.
  • Ask for a discussion leader and note taker for each group.
  • Ask each individual to write down all their ideas.
  • One at a time ask members in their small group to share ideas.
  • Ask note taker to capture all ideas on the flip charts.
  • Ask each small group to report to the larger group.
  • Ask for clarification if needed.
  • After reporting, ask if anyone would like to share anything else.
What would you like to see happen as a result of ECAP?  Begin with the end in mind.
Ask participants:
  • What do you EXPECT to see happen as a result of this process?
  • What would you LIKE to see happen as a result of this process?
  • What would you LOVE to see happen as a result of this process?

To learn more about this process,

At the Next Meeting:
  • Review Discovery Tool results
  • Begin discussion on initial priorities

Debrief with steering team following the session.
Distribute a summary of the session before the next meeting.