Make sure you set aside some quality time to focus on what you really want to know from the community you’re engaging. Your goal is to make questions simple, inclusive, and relevant to the experience of residents. Here’s a guide to crafting great questions (PDF ↓).
A Listening Post project in Macon, Georgia wanted to find a way to make the national debate around gun control and gun violence feel local and tangible. Conversations around gun control online often devolve into emotionally driven arguments between folks at extreme ends of the spectrum. To contrast these conversations, they used Listening Post strategies to ask residents to share their experiences rather than their opinions. They did this by asking simple and straightforward questions (Do you or someone in your family own a gun? What have you experienced that has shaped your opinion towards guns?). By approaching the questions in this way the project in Macon was able to gather deeply personal stories about fears and hopes around gun ownership and violence and received nuanced and varied answers. They heard from hunters who’d grown up with a deep reverence for guns and mothers who’d lost children to gun violence. Regardless of experience or opinion, responses were well thought out and respectful.