How to achieve an engaging community event!
How do you create a successful community event if it doesn’t engage the community? Is it really a success for the community, if it doesn’t engage them? Here at ENGAGE, we believe the best community events engage the local community authentically and sensitively from the very initial stages. Like the noodles in a Laksa soup, the two combined is where the magic happens! The two needs to be together for an engaged community (or if we are still talking about Laska, a happy tummy!)
Our first thoughts went straight to delicious Malaysian food....doesn’t everyone? We are blessed to live in multicultural Melbourne and have an abundance of cuisines at our fingertips (hellooo Taco Tuesdays and Fancy French Fridays). But what we really wanted to achieve was an authentic Malaysian community event. We wanted to get the Malaysian locals living in Melbourne involved. Small restaurants that know their cuisine or friends of friends who are known for their mouth-watering Malaysian desserts. Of course, as event organisers, authenticity can come with its challenges, particularly when we're used to working with our trusty suppliers that do events and do them well. Our new Malaysian friends know their cuisine but are they event ready? Do they have those painfully boring but crucial requirements? We put our OHS and Food Safety hats on to ensure the two can come together...like the Malaysian community came together for this event. As a result, we had a market of hawker style Malaysian food stalls each offering their perfected traditional Malaysian dish. The smell and atmosphere drew the community in resulting in a queue half way down the street! For a property development event, that queue is a sign of success and it could not have been achieved without the Malaysian community coming together.
Here at ENGAGE, we are just a little bit attached to our suppliers... just as you are with your favourite hair dresser. You know they are reliable, amazing at what they do and are always able to squeeze you in the last minute. So once the fundamentals of the event were created - the large clear marquee, the jungle of plants, the power and AV - we were on our own and had say a temporary farewell to our fabulous suppliers and put trust in our new client, Eco World and their friendly contacts within the local Malaysian community. This was key to achieving a community engagement event. And when we say we engaged the Malaysian community...we mean it! From all of the volunteers, the MC, DJ, entertainment through to Diana Chan, 2017 Masterchef winner, on top of the local food stalls, this event was an authentic community engagement event! As authentic as the aromatic Nasi Lemak that was served all wrapped up in an adorable Banana leaf package!
Underneath the large clear marquee was a lush pop up garden of Magnolias, Bay trees and an abundance of citrus trees. We created a space that would be inviting and an escape from the concrete jungle of South Yarra. We printed large cut outs from quirky Malaysian Cartoonist Reggie Lee to characterise the playful side of the festival. There’s nothing more authentic then the community socialising over a laugh! Entertaining (and extremely messy) food competitions were a highlight of the event, and created an interactive layer that united visitors. Traditional Teh Tarik tea-pouring, poured more over the floor then into the tea cups, but when it brought laughter and created community engagement it was absolutely worth it! The Patong Ice Cream competition had older men giggling like young school girls, lifting the atmosphere of the property development event and creating a fun and silly environment for the community to get together and celebrate their culture. Even the ENGAGE team were surprised as the Malaysian acapella group started beat boxing in an unexpected, yet welcomed twist!
So, to answer our own question, the key to achieving a community engagement event is to include the community through as many aspects of the event as possible. We delved into the unknown, said farewell to our trusty suppliers and gave the Malaysian community a time to shine… and shine they did! Everyone involved in the event were all rewarded with the successful outcome and an even greater sense of achievement. It still never ceases to amaze us what can be achieved when the community get together!