Publications by Steph Vajda

Kitchen Table Sustainability:

Practical recipes for engagement with sustainability

This exciting, award-winning book is about community engagement and sustainability.

Kitchen Table Sustainability: Practical Recipes for Community Engagement with Sustainability was written by renowned engagement specialist Wendy Sarkissian together with Steph Vajda, Yollana Shore, Nancy Hofer and Cathy Wilkinson.

The book opens the door so that the theory and practice of sustainability can enter into the experience of the “everyday” and be released from the exclusive provinces of experts: planners, bureaucrats, scientists, intergovernmental panels, roundtables, cabinet tables and board tables.

Top-down approaches close the door to ordinary people, who, sitting at their kitchen tables, feel unable to have the informed conversations about sustaining our futures that every household needs to have.

The book provides practical recipes to help us transform our community engagement with sustainability.

Two years in the making, drawing on stories and case studies from around the world, Kitchen Table Sustainability is designed to help guide and support you through the challenges of engaging with sustainability so that you can make a difference for your community, your organisation and the Earth.

If communities are the heart and hands of the sustainability movement, community engagement is the life support system that connects the heart and the hands to enable the transition toward global sustainability.

Kitchen Table Sustainability offers a unique view of sustainability through the lens of community engagement.

Drawing on a rich tapestry of personal stories, professional and academic knowledge and a heartfelt care for communities and the Earth, this book encourages communities to engage with conversations about sustainability at the ‘kitchen table’ where anyone can contribute and everyone has a place.

Kitchen Table Sustainability introduces a powerful new EATING approach to community engagement, encompassing Education, Action, Trust, Inclusion, Nourishment and Governance. It distils decades of wisdom from community planning, engagement and sustainability practice into a practical guidebook full of inspiring examples and case studies.

Whether you are struggling to know where to start or wondering why your community engagement processes are stuck and not achieving the sustainability results you wanted, this book can help.

Written by one of the world’s leading experts on community engagement and planning, with contributions from experienced practitioners, scholars and activists, Kitchen Table Sustainability is a must-have for anyone who wants to ensure a liveable Earth for future generations of all species.

You can purchase Kitchen Table Sustainability through Dr Wendy Sarkissian’s website, good bookshops or online through Amazon.


A Step-by-step Guide to SpeakOuts and Community Workshops

This award-winning book is an illustrated, detailed ‘how-to’ workshop and facilitation guide with checklists and advice on planning and conducting SpeakOuts using community cultural development approaches (June 2009).

Often community planners, as well as community development activists and community leaders, face  challenges when they try to find inclusive ways of engaging a community in a planning or revitalisation process or project.

This can be a daunting undertaking. Much of the existing literature on community engagement and community planning discusses the concept of best practice, but provides only minimal guidance on how to actually do this inclusive work.

There are references to workshops, SpeakOuts, meetings, and so forth but not advice on how to design and manage them.

This new SpeakOut manual is the product of  two decades of successful practise by internationally acclaimed community planning specialists.

This book aims to enable both a person with little or no experience and planning veterans, to conduct community engagement events with absolute confidence on any topic.

SpeakOut provides hands-on, step-by-step guidance, detailed checklists and practical advice on how to manage SpeakOuts and community engagement processes, right down to remembering to bring extension cords, as well and requirements and advice on facilitation and recording and facilitator training.

SpeakOut features include:

  • Clear step-by-step lists of things to remember when planning a community workshop or SpeakOut, including how to plan it, allocate resources, advertise and encourage participation
  • Relevant case studies from Australia, Canada and Hawai’i where SpeakOuts and workshops have been organized by practitioners, community leaders, activists and academics.
  • A unique section on SpeakOuts for children and young people
  • How to ‘green’ your workshop or SpeakOut
  • Recommendations about matters to consider and coverage of the “dos” and “don’ts” when planning a community workshop
  • A section on facilitator training and facilitation methods, including ground rules, group management, communication techniques, brainstorming, ethics, recording and analysis of participant contributions

You can purchase SpeakOut through Dr Wendy Sarkissian’s website, through good bookshops or online through Amazon.

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