Blog

Weeknotes: It’s all go – Glasgow, w/c 9th September 2019

Headlines This week we are working with Frome Town Council to support the design of their participatory budgeting process – with community-level decision-making built in to the idea refinement stage.  We’re also working with Glasgow City Council to map our next steps for the programme as we edge closer to being able to finally talk about what we’re working on together!  Last week… We supported Glasgow City Council to prepare for a service managers meeting – by providing outputs and materials from our initial scoping/idea generation workshops in late July. This meeting was to agree internal capacity management and resources

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Democratic tools for local government – new report

While early discourse on the internet was optimistic about the potential for technology to improve democratic life, what has since become clear, is that digital tools for democracy do not provide easy shortcuts to better quality democratic engagement or outcomes. The design, implementation and marketing of these tools is important in shaping their impact. This new report examines the role digital tools can have in helping democratic participation in local government – and the obstacles to success.  As a companion paper to a review of current academic research in this area, this report examines how digital tools can be used

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Weeknotes: Training, Shortlisting and Demographics, w/c 2nd September 2019

Headlines Preparing for PB shortlisting event in Frome Training workshop in Calderdale Last week… We carried out a training workshop in Calderdale to help prepare those who will be delivering conversations with residents. Working through the stages of plan, do, and learn/review. This included thinking about listening skills and identifying any unmet learning needs. We are now at a stage where we’ll be less heavily involved as the council start to put these conversations in action. Though as these conversations happen we’ll be hearing reflections about how well or not the prototypes have worked – we’ve created a learning and

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Weeknotes: Having Genuine Conversations, w/c 26th August 2019

Headlines Delivery of community engagement training in Halifax  Getting YourPriorities launched, and starting to plan an in-person idea sifting event in Frome. Last week… Making sure all materials were prepped and facilitators were briefed so we could deliver effective training for Calderdale Council colleagues and residents who will be part of delivering the ‘Calderdale Conversations’ programme (developed with us!)  Sharing final outputs from our workshops a few weeks ago in Glasgow with our delivery partners as we look to move into the next phase of our programme there.  Ironing out a few last minute hitches in getting the ideas that

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Understanding what makes an area different

In the first year of Public Square, we’re working with a small set of councils to pilot approaches to increasing  citizen participation in democracy, with the hope that the lessons learned will be useful in building a wider understanding of the barriers and opportunities in the field as a whole.  One thing we need to understand about our pilot areas is to what extent lessons drawn from them can be applied to the rest of the country. Given this, we extended the Explorer minisite we use to analyse demographics of mySociety services to cover data for local authorities. You can

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Weeknotes: Training Workshop Prep, w/c 19th August 2019

Headlines Getting materials and facilitation plans finalised for a training workshop in Calderdale. Checking everything is ready for the launch of a Your Priorities site in Frome. Doing research on previous online participatory budgeting projects in Frome. Last week… We were helping Frome set up a Your Priorities site. This week we will… Be preparing for a workshop in Calderdale to train those who will be conducting conversations with residents. Including getting materials and facilitation guides ready. Be checking everything is ready for the launch of Frome’s Your Priorities site. Be looking into the performance of Frome’s previous People’s Budget

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Public Square and playbooks

Our work focuses on citizen engagement in local democracy, and we think a playbook could form a key part of this project. Playbooks are a proven way to share the practical lessons we learn from the work we’re undertaking. Our aim is to ensure that none of our learning is lost, and that it is shared with practitioners who face similar challenges in the future in as useful and accessible a way as possible. We’re planning a series of guides, case studies and research presented in a clear and accessible playbook format, to be used by councils and other public

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Why We Need To Talk – The Talking Shop

A discussion with Yvonne Murphy about The Talking Shop concept Here at Public Square we’re always on the looking to find out the ways in which people are developing quality opportunities for local people to be more involved in making local decisions; having their voices heard. So last week, we caught up with Yvonne Murphy, Artistic Director and Executive Producer at Omidaze Productions. We were really excited to learn more about The Talking Shop, which Yvonne recently led in Cardiff, South Wales, to put her theory that the arts, culture and participatory democracy are intrinsically linked to the test. As

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Weeknotes: Online Idea Generation in Frome, w/c 12th August 2019

Headlines Setting up Your Priorities for Frome Early planning of a Participatory Budgeting sift event for Frome Finalising plans for a training workshop in Calderdale Last week… We were capturing what was heard from two days scoping out Glasgow’s involvement in Public Square. This week we will… Set up the online idea generation and discussion platform Your Priorities for Frome Town Council’s Participatory Budgeting process. This is an open source tool, and we’ll be sharing more information about it as we go. Draft out plans for a sift event in Frome to whittle proposals down to a final shortlist for

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How Merlin helped us understand how to talk about our Public Square project

Andrew Peacock, of Calderdale Council, explains the techniques we used to help us understand how we could communicate about their Public Square project, which envisages a different kind of relationship between citizens and the council. How do you make toast? Anyone who’s been involved in a workshop knows the value of a good warm-up exercise to get people feeling relaxed – and, if you’re lucky, maybe even a bit creative.  There’s one task in particular that’s guaranteed to stimulate grey matter: a challenge for people to draw their answer to the question: ‘How do you make toast?’ For some it’s

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