Through conversations with community leaders, the work of this stage is to understand community perspectives and build sufficient trust to enable a process to take place.
It has been said by some that the Australia’s First People, the Aborigines, might embark on a “walkabout” to reconnect with their heritage and personal history in order to regain their spiritual and moral footing. That concept is the foundation of this first stage—building in the opportunity for the sponsor and project team to “ground” themselves by spending time in the community that will be impacted in order to learn, first-hand, from the people who live there.
Given that the convening organization has a concrete purpose—such as obtaining community support to site a new power plant, or to set up wind farms—the goal of this stage is to identify three types of issues:
- Community perceptions of its own key issues
- Community perceptions of the organization proposing the action, including initial impressions of the project
- Community relations among key stakeholders and factions
A series of conversations with community leaders helps to identify others who need to be part of the group process. Ultimately, the work of this stage is to understand community perspectives and build sufficient trust to enable such a process to take place.
The walkabout is an expression of caring and respect for the community and its views.