I agree very much with Lydia's comment, that to listen is the best way to reach an understanding with people.
As a landscape architect I have found that communities all have specific differences, and general similarities.
1. Individuals within a community don't all agree with each other.
2. They want to have their say, and to be taken account of in decisions.
3. They know lots about where they live that we don't know.
The most successful projects I have worked on were the ones where we began without prejudice. That is to say, we deliberately kept our own ideas and wishes and opinions out of the way until we had gained an understanding of what local people told us.
In 'The Fairytale of Burscough Bridge' we began for several weeks by asking local people
1. what they thought of their town
2. what other people thought of their town
3. the best bits about their town
4. the worst bits etc....
One of the most important things was allowing people to see that there were significantly differing opinions within the community. There was not one magic solution which would please everyone living there, we tried to get them thinking about each other's opinions. We simultaneously did extensive research into the area, following leads given to us by local people. Once we understood how people felt about where they lived, and were able to suggest solutions involving bits of their own history that even they didn't know, it seemed that we'd gained their trust.
In another project, BCAL entered a competition where the community would vote for the winner following a presentation. All the other entrants showed images and plans of how the place would look once the project was finished. BCAL gave out postcards and asked people to return them to us with their memories and thoughts about their place, we got the commission in the end.
Once we arrive in Lake City I would like to meet, and listen to, as many people as possible. I find it always feels a bit scary to not be producing ideas and 'stuff' as soon as possible, but I believe it's better.
Some practical suggestions...
Opinions/stories/ideas in written or video (or some other recorded form that is as little mediated as possible) would be a great resource for us when we arrive.
Tapping into pre-existing groups (sports/social/professional) and meeting them. Allowing those who are most interested/committed to find us. That way involvement can trickle up!
Meeting different groups separately, then all groups together later.
Asking the community to consider how others, both within and outside their community, view the situation.
I don't know what anyone else thinks, but I'd be interested to hear.