Global Community Engagement Day is here!

By Andrew Coulson

Members of the Engage 2 Act collective across the world

Members of the Engage 2 Act collective across the world

Late last year I was thinking about how every day now seems to have a celebration attached to it. Days that are celebrated locally, nationally and globally and not just for religious, country’s or famous people anniversary’s but celebrations for really random stuff such as:

International fun at work day – 26 January
Doughnut Day – 1 June
Chocolate Day – 7 July (though there are loads of other chocolaty versions such as chocolate covered peanut day 25 February or hot cocoa day on 13 December)
Yorkshire Day – 1 August
Search more here - www.daysoftheyear.com

And the thing is most days have more than one ‘day of’ because anyone can just start a national day and a great way to get momentum is via social media and a hashtag … its crazy. 

Any way, whilst doing some research for something connected to my day job I came across an article on trending hashtags and raising the profile of your business. One of the hashtags it mentioned was so popular it actually benefitted a well known American Fried Chicken company when they hooked in to it.

One day in July 2013 #NationalFriedChickenDay started trending and here’s the thing with this one, whilst KFC didn’t actually start the hashtag, and it had nothing to do with their brand they were the ones who benefitted the most. They saw the topic trending, jumped in and boom… by offering a promotion using the hashtag, and using the topic to get in front of a very hungry audience who couldn’t stop thinking about fried chicken, they won the day. Even though it was short-lived, it was a win-win for everyone involved. This was a great idea as it was a great way to channel a relevant trending topic and harness some of that engagement for their brand.

In recent years we have also seen the rise and rise of the #cityhallselfie. Our friends across the pond at ELGL started the trend after one of their members took a number of #cityhallselfie’s on holiday and started sharing them on Twitter. The clever folk at ELGL have now made it so popular across the world they have given it its own day that Engage2Act promoted last year in Australia. 

This got me thinking… I’m pretty sure you can see where I’m going with this… Engage 2 Act want to ‘Make Engagement Great Again’. Engage 2 Act want to build a community of practitioners and those interested in Community Engagement to help advance the field or practice. Engage 2 Act want to really put Community Engagement on the map and in the minds of all. So why shouldn’t we have a Global Community Engagement Day!

But what about an appropriate date? 

We need to get community engagement on the map. We need people to understand it. We need it to become mainstream. Launching a Global Community Engagement Day is one step towards raising the profile and importance of high quality community engagement in decision making and problem solving.
— Becky Hirst, President Engage 2 Act

So you may remember back in mid December via our Social Media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) we asked ‘who is it that has really inspired you to do what you do? Which pioneer of Community Engagement stands out for you, who do you love to quote or simply can't live with out when engaging the community’? We held this poll to find out who people’s inspirational Community Engagement person was with an ulterior motive of finding a date for a potential global community engagement day. Whoever came top choice we wanted to use their birthday as an international day for our field to celebrate what we love. 

The results were this, in order: Wendy Sarkissian, Sherry Arnstein and our very own Desley Renton. So we are certainly in the presence of greatness when it comes to community engagement! 

Global Community Engagement Day will be held on the 28 January each year - the birthday of community engagement guru Dr Wendy Sarkissian

Global Community Engagement Day will be held on the 28 January each year - the birthday of community engagement guru Dr Wendy Sarkissian

With Wendy Sarkissian top of the poll we approached Wendy to ask her whether she would be happy for us to use her birthday to launch the very first ever Global Community Engagement Day. Happily she said YES and so this 28 January we are officially declaring the first ever annual Global Community Engagement Day - #commengageday. 

Now as this is the first #commengageday it’s still pretty much a blank canvas and in true E2A style we want you, our members of our Collective, to help make it YOUR day. You work in community engagement, you love community engagement, you want to make community engagement great again so this is your day! It’s basically a day where you can choose your own adventure. So what can we do to mark it?

To start it off Engage 2 Act want to mark #commengageday by launching an annual blog competition. Each year, with the help of Wendy Sarkissian we will announce a community engagement theme a few weeks before the day and ask people to submit blogs. As well as providing the collective E2A website with content we will also provide a winner with a piece of awesome Engage 2 Act merchandise to the value of AU$50!

So really its now over to you. Let's start something new, let's start something big. Let's start our very own #commengageday.

Watch our socials (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LInkedIn) for things Engage 2 Act will be doing and what this years annual blog competition topic will be. 

FYI, other things that happen or have happened on 28 January -

Henry VIII died… wasn’t really in to community engagement
Sir Horace Walpole coins the word serendipity - happens a lot in CE right?!
The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today - community engagement and Lego, hand in hand
Data Privacy Day - very important in CE
Blueberry Pancake Day - great way to start #commengageday
Kazoo Day - how else do we provide a fanfare on #commengageday