The Good News – The Do’s and Don’ts of Community Engagement

Community engagement  is really about one thing; mutual benefit. Given that Black and Brown communities paid the heavy price of the Drug War, we believe the cannabis industry today must work to support communities, offer repair where it is required and collaboratively build relationships that steward reciprocity. Whether it’s 4/20 or any other day let’s support efforts that matter given our history. First and most importantly; the community perceives and receives value from your engagement . Secondly, a well centered community relationship considers repairing drug war harm. The American drug war directly targeted Black and brown people and therefore repair must be focused on the issues of highest priority in those communities. Lastly, your community work should align with your business objectives. Doing the right thing must be tied to both your success and your community’s health. Before jumping in, Let’s get clear on  what community work is NOT. 

  1. Charity
    • Your investment whether it be time, talent, or treasure is valuable. However, consider that dollars alone are not going to repair Black and brown communities. Read: Charity does not inherently equal change. So to influence long-term change, consider social change modeling, rather than white saviorism charity.
  2. A Publicity Stunt
    • Don’t come in cameras blazin. Community work is relational not transactional. Of course, when the time is right both you and your community partner will benefit from publicly sharing your work together. Until then take your time and get to know the passion + people behind the mission. Remember; the vetting process is mutual. Your confidence and alignment with the organization is equally important as their confidence in your company and intentions. 
  3. A Bandage for Internal Work
    • Before you begin external equity engagement, consider looking in the mirror first.  Determine if your mission, values, and systems are working towards antiracism. Need help? CDG’s Racial Equity Self-Assessment is a solid starting place. Antiracism is the epicenter of equity. Addressing racism addresses the multitude of ‘isms. Community work at its best boosts equity not only by redistributing resources but by repairing the institutional racism that we all inherited; but can ditch with time and effort. Without antiracism education you could unknowingly become an agent of harm rather than repair. And that isn’t exactly a good look for your business. 

Now that’s out of the way, here’s why community work is so valuable. 

  1. Win-Win Situations
    • Trust us, you will gain more than you give. Being in relationship with a community will enrich your company culture, connect you with brilliant people doing incredible things, and stretch your understanding of the world. Community is never responsible to teach you but if you’re authentic, respectful, and open you’ll likely learn a lot while your investment helps grow the good you care about. Pro-Tip: Purpose-driven, community-engaged companies outperform their competitors by 42%.
  2. Legacy Building
    • When we’re all old and gray, smoking our favorite flower it sure would be nice to look back and say we used our collective cannabis power to do Good. What’s Good you ask? To us; it’s racial justice and environmental sustainability. Community engagement happens to be a perfect vessel to make a positive generational impact. Products come and go, impact is a legacy.
  3. Taking Your Talk for a Walk
    • Community engagement is the footwork for your reputation. Take Terrapin Care Station for example; TCS has invested years into building their community engagement and has invested time, talent, and treasure. They have shown through action that “Terrapin Cares”. The data shows 91% of millennials and 66% of Gen-X/Boomers would switch to a purpose driven brand so caring means winning the market too. 

Take a peek at our Antiracism Guide for Cannabusinesses for more tips and resources.

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