Weeknote: Local knowledge is key, w/c 20th May 2019

Headlines Project call with Frome Town Council – we’re sharing and discussing various tools and items of reference as we look to design a solution for Frome’s Town Vote. We’ve got a busy two-days in Calderdale! On Thursday we’re working with Calderdale Council to facilitate a co-design workshop with some key stakeholders (including citizens) and on Friday we’re meeting with and sharing the story of Public Square in Calderdale with senior officers and elected members. We’re super excited! Last week… Met with the lead officer at Glasgow City Council who is our main contact for developing our Public Square work.

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Calderdale Council Becomes A Partner

After all the build-up it’s time to introduce the first of Public Square’s council partners: Calderdale Council. What is happening in Calderdale? Over the years, the work of councils has changed. We live in very different societies today than we have in the past. Every council has an implicit ‘social contract’ with its residents – an unspoken understanding of what each other’s roles and responsibilities are. But as times have changed it’s time we looked more closely at what citizens and government can expect from each other, and thought about how both partners can best work together to create the

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Weeknote: Planning Co-Design, w/c 13th May 2019

Headlines Designing a Co-design workshop with Calderdale Council Pulling together information about Participatory Budgeting and approaches to online voting for Frome Getting clear our approach to discovery and co-design Last week… We are moving ever closer to a co-design workshop in Calderdale next week, which will bring community stakeholders together with the council to help plan a wide-ranging conversation this summer about the relationship between residents and the council. Last week we spent time designing the workshop together with Calderdale Council’s Neighbourhoods and Cohesion Manager. We want to help our partner councils out, by providing inspiration about new approaches. In

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Weeknotes: Digital in discovery, w/c 6th May, 2019

Headlines Exploring digital tools for decision-making and communicating Public Square Last week… Initial discussion about what our digital approach should be in Calderdale. Thinking about ways to use digital tools in opening up a small grant programme to wider participation. Starting to think about how we talk about Public Square to people who might be interested in our next steps Explored tools and options available to provide a solution to digital decision-making (which isn’t about participatory budgeting) Held the Technical Reference Group meeting – which turned into a useful project-team meeting to think about our journey so far and where

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Weeknote: Starting Discovery, w/c 29th April, 2019

Headlines Onsite discovery visit in Frome – interviews with key stakeholders Last week… Spent a day in Frome shaping discovery and doing interviews with key stakeholders (Friday, 26 April). Spoke to Andy Paice, a public participation consultant and learned more about his work. Planned meeting with Technical Reference Group, to be held on 1 May. Developed Calderdale – and planned our onsite discovery work in May. User research interview and document review around council process, barriers and opportunities This week we will… Take part in our Technical Reference Group meeting Continue to develop our discovery work onsite with Calderdale Reflect

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We’re writing weeknotes

As we’re now starting to work with the four council areas, we’ll be publishing weeknotes to capture what we’re up to and what we’re learning. It’s part of the wider approach we’re using to learn research as we work, and share that learning and thinking publicly. Thanks to Emily Robertson-Knowlton, who shared the blog post format she’s using for the planning permissions project that mySociety is involved in with the Digital Land team at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The format is really simple – and allows us to work collectively to publish something quick but (hopefully)

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Reporting on Public Square, w/c 23/04/19

Headlines Working with councils to start discovery phases for our work with them. And this is our first weeknotes! Last week… Finalised semi-annual report for Luminate, having submitted earlier in April. Started detailed discovery for councils, including project plans, briefings and research questions.. Completed draft profiles for each of our councils, situating them along dimensions of local authority variation. Attended the Digital Development Group for Participatory Budgeting in Scotland – shared information about Public Square. Started our weeknotes! This week we will… More work on discovery – including in-person discovery sessions, working through documentation and planning our visit to Calderdale Council

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TICTeC – The Impacts of Civic Technology

Every year mySociety host TICTec, a conference for those interested in how technology is changing the way we engage with society. This year’s conference was on the 19th and 20th of March, in Paris, and brought together more than 200 leaders in the Civic Tech field.

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How do we get to joined-up change?

Introduction A challenge for Public Square is to understand how innovation in involving communities in decision making can go from isolated examples in different places – and with different labels – to a whole-system change. On Saturday 16 February Mel Stevens and I held a workshop at the Notwestminster event in Huddersfield where we posed this question to a wide group of people interested in local democracy. We introduced Public Square then asked a series of questions about decision-making. Here’s a quick download of the conversations we had and some reflection about what we can take forward to the programme.

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Read our literature review of digital public engagement

To help build a knowledge base for Public Square’s work, mySociety’s Head of Research Rebecca Rumbul has written a literature review examining current academic research around the question of how digital tools can assist the creation of a meaningful, participative and collaborative environment. This review will help us to explore how digital tools are already addressing the barriers to citizen participation in decision making – helping us to think about how we use digital engagement as part of our work with our council partners. The key conclusions are: Bureaucratic and institutional structures will exert pressure upon new digital platforms that

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