Community Outreach & Engagement

By Dinesh Lodha, IFMR Finance Foundation

The emphasis on empathizing with the community, as part of the Design Thinking approach that we applied in Ranganatha Nagara, Srirangapatna, allowed us to deeply embed ourselves with the local residents in understanding their requirements and also helped develop familiarity with them. Such effort we believed would be a crucial ingredient in the run-up towards the community engagement workshops that we had planned.

With an area that spanned 75 households, we thought it was best to conduct these engagement workshops at a granular level so as to arrive at a more inclusive and detailed understanding of how the residents envision their community’s future. This required us to segment the households into three workshops that we had planned to conduct over a period of time.


In the run-up towards each workshop we undertook a build-up process that in addition to inviting residents personally, was also aimed at priming the households about the upcoming workshop and its intent. The process allowed us to engage the households in a meaningful way about their aspirations and also was a opportunity to reach out to all sections of the society irrespective of their background.

The build-up process


Having split the area into workshop segments, the field team undertook the build-up process for each designated area where the workshop was to be conducted next. The process involved:

Presentation: We had prepared a presentation in Kannada that we ran through with each household. The presentation outlined who we were, what was our objective, and gave an overall sense about the process and how each household’s active participation could determine their, and the community’s future, in general. Largely visual, the presentation also included a case study of Hivre Bazar (Village in Maharashtra) about how the community got together and deliberated on issues that the community faced and collectively identified ways to address them.

Img3_cities_91114Making a presentation outside each household

Vision Sheets: During a visit to each household we asked the respondent from the household to answer three questions of a questionnaire we called the “Vision Sheet”. The questions were open-ended and were addressed to the respondent in Kannada and the field team wrote down the answers in the local language. The questions were:

  • What are the things you want to preserve in your area?
  • What are the things you want to change in your area?
  • What are the things you want to create in your area?

The intent with the vision sheet was to make the households think beyond their regular chores and in a way prep them up for the visioning exercise that was to follow as part of the workshop.

Each filled-up vision sheet, which had a control number written on it that identified the particular household, would form the basis of the upcoming workshop.

Filling up the vision sheet

Painting Competition: We had also organized a painting competition as part of the build-up. The theme was “My Home” and each household, while being invited, was handed over a set of sketch pens and two A3 sheets. The idea was to create some buzz around the workshop and get the kids in the house excited about the competition. We planned to collect the drawings before the workshop began so that we could decide on the top entries for which prizes could be given at the end of each workshop.

It was heartening to see the response the painting competition had generated and it was interesting that it wasn’t just the kids but also mothers who actively participated in the competition. We will cover the painting competition in a separate post later.


For the workshop we had chosen a venue that was nearby to the locality so that residents didn’t have to travel much; in addition we had made stand-by transportation arrangements in case the elderly sought it. The invite was made in the local language and clearly outlined the venue, time and date of the workshop. The invite also had a control number that matched the filled-up vision sheet of the particular household.

Workshop invite in Kannada

Invite being handed over to a resident

In the next post we will cover the discussions that emerged from the workshops.