Part I: Virtual Engagement and Rural Grantee Work
Guest Blog by Emily Singerhouse
Hello everyone! My name is Emily Singerhouse, a consultant working with the Sexual Violence Justice Institute on the OVW Rural Grantee project. For the next few weeks, I will be talking with you about the ideas of virtual engagement.
You might be asking yourself, what on earth is virtual engagement? Well, you are in for a treat! SVJI and I will be working together to support OVW grantees with all things virtual engagement. To kick it off, this blog series will discuss various topics surrounding virtual engagement—such as background on virtual engagement, what this looks like across disciplines, and using it in your work as a rural grantee.
Before I get into some details of virtual engagement, I am going to give you a little background on myself because luckily for me, this isn’t the only time you will see my name pop up when working on this grant. I am a researcher and evaluator focusing on the issues of human trafficking, sexual violence, domestic violence, and community-wellbeing. Since 2015, I have worked on these issues through the political, academic, and private sectors. I facilitate a community-based action research approach because I believe rigorous research entails community partnership, building upon strengths the community already has, and knowledge sharing as a whole rather than two halves.
Back in 2020 when I was working at the University of Minnesota on a youth sex trading project, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social uprisings in Minneapolis, the virtual world became a place of resource sharing, social-emotional support, and a place where community lives. We found new ways to conduct research, engage with the community, and create partnerships.
Virtual engagement, sometimes also referred to as online engagement, digital engagement, and virtual community engagement is the process of building relationships with people by interacting across various forms of online channels. Virtual engagement is a tool that agencies and organizations can use to:
- Connect with community members
- Share resources & education
- Change messaging and de-stigmatize
- Garner support for funding
- Create partnerships with like-minded entities
- & more!
There are many ways we can all benefit from using the online world, and I am so excited for you to find out how you will, too. Join me over the next few weeks while we dive into this vast, novel, and incredibly exciting topic–virtual engagement!
If you have any questions about anything in this blog, about the project, or virtual engagement, feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.