community animator
n. A person who works with the members of a community to help get them informed and excited about local issues.
community animation n.

Example Citations:
The death of one of the few appetizing grocery stores along the unlovely and unloved Greenwood-to-Woodbine strip ... helped galvanize area residents, and prompted a desperate search to revitalize their community.

Dozens turned up at a community meeting at the local library last week seeking inspiration from a group of Ryerson University urban-planning students who have dedicated part of their third year to a project on the area. They also went to the meeting hoping for a kick-start from a "community animator" from a grassroots organizing body, the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition.
—Jane Gadd, "Rescuing a Danforth in decline," The Globe and Mail, April 2, 2004

Day care, family counselling, exercise clubs, social clubs, leisure activities, etc., can all enhance health. ... The obvious prescription here is to invest in community social and cultural connections, to hire more social workers and community animators, and to build sports arenas and community centres where people can meet and socialize.
—Derek Wilkinson, "Taking the pulse of small-town Canada," The Medical Post, November 25, 2003

Earliest Citation:
Just looking over this woman's curriculum vitae I am overwhelmed. Dorothy [Rosenberg] has been active and remains active with women's and environmental groups, in many capacities. As instructor, film consultant, lecturer, and community animator on energy issues, the environment and women and peace, Dorothy sees feminism as having significant roles within a range of social issues.
—Sharon Hounsell, "Speakers and Resource People," The OptiMSt, September 30, 1983

Notes:
Subscriber Philip van Leeuwen provided the following helpful information on the background of this phrase:

I suspect that this term comes directly from Canada because it comes from the French "animateur". I live in Quebec and was involved in community organizing for years. The French word "animateur" always seemed so much better than the English "organizer" or "facilitator" (depends on the sense used).

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