Getting Started With Building Relationships

“Who else should we involve in community-level change?”

Relationships drive the work of community change forward. You are working to build relationships with a central team right now, but what about building relationships outside of your team? You need funding, resources, volunteers, and other assistance as you move through executing projects.  

The work of building relationships needs to happen before asking for something from organizations or individuals–your goal is to cultivate long-term and authentic partnerships while identifying what is important to community decision-makers, potential funders, and volunteers.  

In order to build strong relationships with others, you need to understand how you work with others. Continuing to learn more about yourself is important as these relationships develop. 


Activities: Choose 2-3 activities to complete to identify common interests and build relationships with your team. You’ll be tempted to jump straight into the work, but understanding what matters to others on your team and how they work best is important to your long-term success. Take your time with the activities; they aren’t intended to be completed in one sitting. 


  • Power Trading CardsTaking information that you garnered from your one-on-one conversations, complete this activity to have a quick reference within your community of what stakeholders consider to be important assets.  


  • Enneagram Personality Test – The Enneagram is a personality typing test that focuses on how you interact with others and what you find important. Take this quiz individually and then discuss your findings and results with your team. Identify who among the team is best at reaching out to new people and who is best at maintaining relationships.

  • My Community WishlistUsing the Community Wishlist from Lesson 1.3: Getting Started With Others, add a fourth column that identifies who exactly in the community cares about each of the items on the wishlist to better show the importance of these items.


Here’s your chance to take some time to think and reflect on your dreams and interests. Keep a community building journal, scribble notes on some post-its, or simply think about these questions before moving on to the next lesson!

  • Reflecting on your Enneagram type (1-9), identify your strengths and weaknesses with relationship-building tasks (For example, Enneagram 2s tend to be people pleasers).

  • What are specific tasks in your community that volunteers could assist with completing?

  • What were you surprised about when conducting the one-on-one conversations exercise?

Community Development in Action

MacKenzie Walker is a community leader in Matewan, WV who utilizes the power of relationship development to harness resources and funding for the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. Through building powerful partnerships, the City of Matewan has completed a series of small wins and met goals through a community development process, leading to larger projects currently underway. Learn more about what’s happening in Matewan in this video.

Watch this HubCAP video highlighting Matewan and their amazing work!

Ready to keep going?

What Happens When Active Participation Replaces Spectatorship?

Educators and school service personnel kept watch over the Conference Committee on HB 4145 during their deliberations earlier this week. Photo by Will Price, Legislative Photographer.


With HB 4145 passed on Tuesday, and schools back in session on Wednesday, there can be no doubt – this week has seen a huge victory for teachers and public workers in WV.

Their ability to organize this strike, to hold firm in the face of powerful opposition, and to demand that their voices be included in this policy discussion gave legislators no choice but to accept their participation in the legislative process. Teachers fought for and achieved one of the key changes that they were striking for.

One of the primary things that the teachers’ strike has demonstrated to me, other than the incredible organizing power of West Virginians, is the terrible lack of participation that is allowed and encouraged through our legislative process.

As citizens, we are openly offered very few, very specific ways in which to participate in the process and there is a very prescribed method by which we’re supposed to enact our participation. It’s not an unfair assessment to say that this approach is a part of what caused the systemic situation that led to the teachers’ strike in the first place.

Under normal circumstances, the legislative process would have relegated teachers to the sidelines, making them spectators in discussions about pay raises and PEIA, rather than active participants. That was, and still is, the expectation for the majority of the legislative process.

In order to have their concerns impact decision-making, in order to have their needs guide legislative action, every county in the state needed to close school. Crowds at the Capitol had to reach into the thousands and legislative leadership had to be backed into a political corner that they couldn’t get out of any other way.

What does that say about how responsive the legislative system can be to the needs of communities in our state?

While a major concern of teachers and public workers was addressed by the passage of HB 4145, there are other, systems level changes that teachers were calling for that have yet to be addressed.

Governor Justice’s deal with teachers promises to set up a task force with seats at the table for representatives of  teachers’ interests. However, with almost a quarter of a million people on PEIA, this is not an improvement to the level of participation that teachers were offered before they went on strike.

Throughout the strike, a recurring theme in rally chants was the idea of remembering those who supported teachers’ needs and those who did not when it comes time to vote in November (primary elections are also coming up in May). This gets me thinking:

Voting is just one way that we citizens can participate in our legislative process.

What could be achieved if teachers and their supporters pushed for greater participation now, throughout the work of the PEIA task force, and leading up to November?

Perhaps this time, teachers’ concerns could impact a decision-making process from the beginning.

Interested in more articles like this one? Subscribe to The Hub’s Legislative Hubbub email, sent every Thursday during Session. Sign up now »

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