This article provides a brief overview of Appreciative Organizing (AO), a term coined by the author in her graduate work to describe the roles that dialogue, listening, storytelling, community networks, social bonding, and leadership play in designing and leading meaningful community engagement initiatives that result in transformative partnerships. It offers constructive steps and a real-life example of how AO was used to strengthen relationships between an institution of higher learning and the community it serves. AO posits that in order to strengthen America’s sense of community, public engagement practices must become more inclusive and innovative, and better networked. It illustrates how this community-centered method, grounded in the philosophical principles of partnership, appreciation, hope, and imagination, transformed an administration and built a culture of continuous engagement that helped the college meet and exceed its institutional goals. Further, through this example, the article’s larger objective is to share ways in which this method, when broadly applied, can be used to build trust and strengthen working relationships within a community setting.


Appreciative Inquiry; Appreciative Organizing; community engagement; partnership; Imagine Clackamas; Clackamas Community College

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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