Show what matters ™

The timing is right for broader engagement and deeper engagement with communities. Connecting, conversing, contributing is more vital than ever in these disrupted times.

But we don’t just have to ask people what they think. Ask them to show what they think. It’s never been easier.

‘Normal’ community engagement – listening posts, open house, workshops, community BBQs – might feel like a distant memory. These conversations are still happening, just the location has changed. The sudden and complete switch to online has been challenging, for everyone. But these challenges are outweighed by the exciting opportunities for digital engagement.

Especially how to involve the ‘hardly reached’¹.

The switch to an online engagement environment might just be the trigger we need to fix long-standing issues with community engagement.

Issues such as:

  • Appealing to young people
  • Engaging authentically with people for whom English is not their first language.
  • Being constrained by no face-to-face engagement activities.
  • How to extend the conversation to people who weren’t ‘in the room’ but who are keen to contribute.

We’d like to introduce you to a novel engagement process that we call Show what matters ™. The idea is simple and the effect profound. Shoot photos, share stories. Show what matters to a community.

Almost everyone is comfortable taking photos on their smart phones and sharing them.

Asking people to show what they think has never been easier.........

Step 1

The power of imagery to tell a story

Take a look at the two photos, think about the story they are telling.......

Before: A close up view After: A wide perspective

Photo attribution Rebecca + Abbie Miller

Photos evoke empathy -They connect us to each other – fast. That’s because we process visual information much more quickly than written. 60,000 time faster than text. Images have been part of our lives a lot longer than writing. They also connect us because we don’t just ‘take’ them. We make them.

Photos are universal - As second and third waves of COVID hit cities, towns and countries around the world, photos continue to connect us, like a spider web of empathy across the globe. Teams have used photos to connect remotely during the pandemic.

Photos give voice - People’s own photos show what they think and feel much more powerfully than asking them to choose one from a set of provided by the facilitator. This is at the heart of Photovoice, an empowering methodology used in Community-Based Participatory Research that enables people to reflect upon the strengths and concerns of their community.

Foot Notes

[1] ‘Hardly reached’ groups are people organisations find difficult to involve in public participation. It’s a better term than ‘hard to reach’ which ‘defines the problem as one within the group itself, not within your approach to them’ (Smith 2006). See: (i) Brackertz, Nicola, Who is hard to reach and why? ISR Working Paper Jan 2007 and

(ii) Community Consultation and the ‘Hard to Reach’: Concepts and Practice in Victorian Local Government, Brackertz, Nicola; Zwart, Ivan; Meredyth, Denise; Ralston, Liss. Swinburne Institute for Social Research, December 2005 . The term is also used in the community health and health promotion sectors. See: (iii) Boundary spanning practices of community connectors for engaging ‘hardly reached’ people in health services, Wallace, Carolyn; Farmer, Jane, McCosker, Anthony and (iv) Rebeccah Sokol and Edwin Fisher, 2016: Peer Support for the Hardly Reached: A Systematic ReviewAmerican Journal of Public Health 106, e1_e8,

Step 2

What is important for a good life?

Each idea is only 140 characters. Write as many ideas as you like.

Tell us what is important for a good life

You have 140 characters left
Moderation Policy

20 April, 2021

Hummingbird says:

“Acts of kindnesd”

31 March, 2021

Jn says:

“Joy & Gratitude ”

31 March, 2021

Hummingbird says:


8 February, 2021

Amber says:

“Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy. Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye. He’s got style, a groovy style, and a car that just wo”

17 December, 2020

community says:

“Friends and a sense of belonging”

28 November, 2020

Smurth says:

“Engagement with pumas”

28 November, 2020

Fifi says:

“Health. An interest in the community around you, a wider interest in the world around you, & a connection to the people in both”

28 November, 2020

hummingbird565 says:

“Love, purpose, freedom”

28 November, 2020

Hummingbird says:

“Love, purpose, freedom”

27 November, 2020

bianca.caruso says:

“Health and Family Access to food and water Employment opportunities ”

Step 3

Your photos of what makes a good life.

Let’s explore the difference between words and imagery, on the same question....