Blog

Fortnightly Updates: Reporting on Our Work, w/c 4th November

Headlines Much of what we are doing at the moment is creating reports of what we’ve been doing over the last year. We’ve also released two blog posts, linked below, about improving communication. Last fortnight… Wrote a first draft discovery report for our work in Frome, pulling together what we learned about the context of the town and history of the People’s Budget programme there.  Shared some options around digital tools for participation with our partners at Calderdale. This fortnight we will… Be working on a prototyping report describing all the things we tried together with Frome Town Council to

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Simple Communication Part Two: How Journalists Write for Wide Audiences 

In our first part, we looked at the way people read – and how this can inform how we write. In this post we move on to look at ploys to order information, learning how journalists, storytellers and other communicators use ploys to improve communication Tips from news writing Journalists are trained to write for a wide readership with a variety of reading abilities, who have no reason to read their story at all. As a result, they are taught to write in a particular way that helps them to convey information in concise and simple way.   Talk to

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Simple Communication, Part One: Understanding How We Read 

Public Square wants to make local democracy easier to understand. As a result, we are learning about how we can use simple language to make communication clearer. In our first blog post on simple language, we look at how people read – and how it can help you to use simple language.   Learning to read and understanding The team that writes the Government’s web pages on everything from how to get a passport to what happens in the event of a no-deal Brexit, shares some valuable insights into how people learn to read in the how people read guide.

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‘Week’notes: Shortlisting and Voting in Frome, w/c 7th October

We’ve decided to switch to fortnightly updates (“sprint notes”?), and are hoping that this will give us more time to communicate about what we are doing in other formats alongside these notes. So this update (and those that follow) describes what we’ve been up to for the last two weeks, and what’s coming up this week and next one. Headlines Ran a shortlisting event for Frome’s Participatory Budgeting process. Go live on Frome’s online vote. Pulling together reports for Frome and Calderdale. Last fortnight… A few weekends back we ran a shortlisting event in Frome. This event was designed to

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Understanding the Public

A guest blog by Dr Nikki Soo from the Crick Centre.  When we set out to develop research on the theme ‘Studying the Public’ at the Crick Centre, there was a realisation amongst colleagues here at Sheffield that the idea of the public, along with the definition of the term, was both intuitive yet highly contested. The etymology of the term suggests that ‘public’ describes something ‘open to general observation’, or something ‘concerning the public as a whole’. However, we all understand and study the public in very different ways, from nationally representative surveys, to studies of small, localised groups. What do

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Weeknotes: People Participate in Frome, w/c 16th  September 2019

Headlines This week, we’re really busy getting everything prepared for a Participatory Budgeting event in Frome with Frome Town Council on Sunday.  We’re starting to work with Glasgow to look at a narrative for the project, to ensure it makes sense and is relatable to people from the community, council officers, and elected members for example. Last week… We developed plans for our Frome workshop Continued to agree plans with Glasgow City Council This week we will… Carry out a Participatory Budgeting event this Sunday in Frome. This will bring a randomly selected pool of citizen volunteers together to shortlist

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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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