What is the Mayor’s role within a community? How does somebody in a position of governance view community? How do they communicate with that community? I talked to Mayor of Unley, Lachlan Clyne, who has always been captivated by a sense of community: a community that centres around local facilities, businesses and the people within it. Lachlan is driven by community connections and by the feeling of being part of something bigger than himself. Helping people, uniting people and making things better is what drove him to become one of the youngest ever Mayors in South Australia.
In today’s episode of Be The Drop, Mayor Clyne talks about the importance of humanisation in communication, about community as the soul and heartbeat of a place, and reveals how to motivate action simply by being open to it…
The importance of organisational culture.
Mayor Clyne’s community is made up of the 4000+ residents of and visitors to Unley. His role as Mayor is to unite that community and make it easy for events, experiences and activities to bring to life the buildings, businesses and streets of Unley. It’s the way people interact with those physical structures that creates community, he says. He views his role as Mayor as a facilitator of that process.
The community is champing at the bit to make things happen, so seeing him and the Council as facilitators rather than blockers is crucial to motivating action. Society at large tends to view dealing with Councils as a legalistic, beaurocratic experience, which can put people off engaging all together. Lachlan says his team have made efforts to slash red tape and create an approachable, enabling organisational culture; as a result, people are coming to Unley to host their events. An example of this is the Sri Lankan Food & Wine Festival, which is now in its 3rd year and has grown to such a degree, it’s expected to be ‘poached’ by Adelaide City Council soon for a larger venue. This is a sign of success, says Lachlan, that they’ve facilitated such growth within their community.
Present yourself as approachable and that will start to be reflected in your organisation. Reflect that culture on your social media platforms and, while people may not take action immediately, they’ll notice and come to understand that they can interact with you when they want to.
The personal touch is still so incredibly important today and for every demographic, not just the older generations, says Lachlan. “It humanises the relationship that Council has (through me) with the community.” Click to tweet!
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Good experiences mean repeat business.
If the culture of the organisation and the staff members working for the organisation actively support the approach by people with ideas, and wanting to facilitate making events happen, then when people do approach them and have a good experience, they start to talk about those experiences with others in a similar field. Gradually, it snowballs. Lachlan explains that through the Main Street Trader Associations and Council, ideas are generated and executed into events, like the Unley Gourmet Gala (30,000 people per year) or Evening Under The Stars on Unley Road, that ensure the streets of Unley are attractive places for people to come and spend their money with local businesses.
If you present yourself as approachable, your organisational culture will start to reflect that and your community will be more likely to engage with you.
Social media to facilitate understanding.
The advent of social media has been extremely exciting, says Lachlan, for how Council is able to engage with its community. He explains: Council is bound by a State Government Act, which dictates how and when community consultation should occur. Essentially, this means that community consultation is based on a 1990’s model of engaging with people. So the traditional modes of communication, like letters, can be beaurocratic and dehumanised, and information tends to get lost in translation. Social media provides the ideal platform for listening and responding to people’s concerns and confusion about issues. The pervading view among the general public is that governing bodies won’t change their direction based on what the public thinks or says, which is why door-knocking and social media interaction is integral to Lachlan and Council showing they’re sincere about wanting to make decisions that reflect the community’s standards and needs; they’re capable of listening and modifying their actions. After all, communication is a 2-way process!
JOIN ME – LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!
Let’s Be The Drop and create a waterfall together! This year, I’ll be participating in the CEO Sleepout to raise money for Vinnies (click here for the Vinnies SA CEO, David Wark, interview blog post) with hundreds of other CEOs and business owners. Community action like this really embodies the spirit of Be The Drop for me. United, we can make a difference; individually, we’re just single drops, but if we work together, we can create a waterfall. I believe passionately in this philosophy and want to live it wholeheartedly, not just talk about it in my podcast.
So, join me in supporting Vinnies and we can change the lives of hundreds of thousands of homeless Aussies. Homelessness is not a choice, but I’m choosing to experience it for just one uncomfortable winter night to raise money to help those people that desperately need it. You don’t need to join me on the soggy cardboard, but you can support my fundraising efforts >> just follow this link to my fundraising page. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you again for tuning in and listening to the BTD podcast. I can’t wait for the next installment to bring you more inspiring people talking about their strategies for connecting with and building a positive community. And if you want more behind the scenes stuff and bits not included in the show, head over to our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.
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