Blog

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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Weeknotes: Scoping in Glasgow, w/c 5th August 2019

Headlines Scoping out how we can work with Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life. Comms planning with Calderdale. Planning a training workshop in Calderdale. Last week… Spent two days in Glasgow with Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life to scope out our Public Square project together. We also developed a community engagement plan and look forward to further developing our plans and sharing more about our work there shortly!  Met with the comms team from Calderdale Council to discuss plans for a website supporting their Calderdale Conversations. Next stage is mocking up a version of the site. Drew up plans

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Keep up with participatory democracy news on Twitter

All over the world, many different organisations are trying out many forms of participatory democracy. From independent nonprofits to local authorities, to cross-border coalitions and international consortia, there’s a whole lot of prototyping, experimentation, impact testing and result sharing going on— and we can all benefit from following each others’ experiences. To make it easy to keep up with the news from every quarter, we’ve put together a Twitter list. If you’re a Twitter user too, you can follow it by clicking the little ‘i’ sign at the top of the list: …and then clicking ‘subscribe’.  You’ll be able to

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Weeknotes: Capturing Learning in Calderdale, w/c 29th July 2019

Headlines Creating resources for capturing learning and reflections in Calderdale. Planning communications and web presence for Calderdale Conversations. Scoping conversations in Glasgow. Last week… We pulled the prototypes and engagement plan developed through our co-design workshops in Calderdale into a form for the council to start building upon and putting into use. We also created a content capture form for staff and volunteers to record what’s heard in Calderdale Conversations across the borough. And created a learning and reflections form for those using prototypes to capture learning about how well these prototypes work and how they can be improved on.

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Five things we learned from the Agora di Messina project

The Agora Di Messina Project took a group of citizens through a unique exploration of democratic engagement in Sicily, culminating in a festival of democracy that they organised themselves. We spoke to Francesca Attolino and Ivan Tornesi – the Demsoc team who led the work – about what they learned in this landmark programme. We’ve condensed some of the learning points from our longer case study – available on the Public Square website. Read: Our Public Square case study, available on the Public Square website.  Listen: Annie Cook interviews Francesca and Ivan – available as a podcast.   People care

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Research: understanding the role of councillors in local participation

As part of our research, we’re planning a project to map the opinions and attitudes of local councillors about participatory democracy. One point that’s been reinforced through the early stages of Public Square is that piloting new local participatory exercises requires the buy-in of the elected councillors. The goal is a better understanding of how representative and participatory democracy fit together. What we mean by participatory democracy While there are many forms participatory democracy can take, broadly it can be understood as providing mechanisms for “[d]irect influence for citizens on the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods”.  As a

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