Where to even begin. A one page summary, I feel as though I could almost create a page (well, more) long LIST of ideas to involve the community into my art projects. I think this had a great deal to do with the way I was raised, both in my home and in the art room. My parents encouraged creativity at home, and we were always figuring out how to "make things" to pass the time. My art teachers were members of my community that I saw outside of the classroom in high school, so art naturally mixed and melded my community and classroom into one idea.
One thing I really love focusing on whenever I teach art in the community is the idea of bridging generational gaps. I think there is so much potential in integrating the youngest youth with the beautiful silver haired elders of a community. The two have such interesting perspectives on life, and can nurture the other in so many ways. I think far too often we overlook the potential to mix our "classes" up even once we leave the school building yet that is the chance when we have the most freedom to explore without boundaries.
The idea of postcards have really intrigued me for quite some time as an avid traveler. However after my level II field experience last year, a classmate of mine brought up Post Secret and the idea of a mail exchange and I have been hooked on several related ideas ever since. I think one great way to involve members of the community in the art program is to form a pen pal system. Students could write to members of a local club or perhaps retirement/nursing home. They could exchange artwork in the form of a photograph a month, or a drawing, or some other handmade trinket. I grew up in a town that thrived on tourists flocking to see the tulips lining our dutch streets every spring. It always amazed me how much marketing went into such a small little town and how it hosted such a large event. I think students or the pairing of student-community member could really be an excellent place to look for designs for publications. I know there are professionals hired to do those kinds of jobs, but local advertising for a festival created by the youth of the city is something that has great appeal to me; and feels so much more authentic and so much less plastic and commercialized. The Pen Pal system could be set up their freshman year of high school and carry through the four years. They could simply exchange art and thoughts each month/every other month/every semester; but there could also be events and opportunities for them to come together and create a joint piece (ie: advertising for a festival, sponsoring library events, some sort of mass mailing to build awareness about a topic).
My list could go on an on, I could almost virtually take any lesson plan and find a way to make it community based; whether holding a workshop in a public space and invite the community or to bring in members into the classroom... To relate projects to current local events or to spread awareness to the local community about a global issue.. The sky is really the only limit (although incorporating airplanes and flight would be pretty awesome)... Don't get bogged down in the four walls of your classroom.. Remember to look up and look out and around you often and take advantage of the relationships you could form in your community!