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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: 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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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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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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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: 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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Weeknotes: Preparing for Glasgow Scoping Session, w/c 22nd July 2019

Headlines We’re getting prepared for an intensive two days working in Glasgow with Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life to develop their programme of work with Public Square – looking at scoping, decision-mapping, community engagement planning and more!  Last week… We’ve been capturing outputs from our second Calderdale co-design workshop, ready for sharing back. Continuing to develop plans for the PB process in Frome, particularly thinking about online ideation and how best to sift and develop unformed ideas. This week we will… Meet with Dr Nikki Soo, Research Associate at the Crick Centre to discuss opportunities for sharing some of

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Weeknotes: Developing and Filtering Ideas, w/c 18th July 2019

Headlines Second co-design workshop in Calderdale Thinking about inclusion online and offline with our partners in Frome Last week… We ran our second our co-design workshop in partnership with the council in Calderdale. We used the open source tool scenes to help our group of council staff, partners and citizens think through what our four prototypes from the first workshop could look like in the real world. And we asked our group to think about opportunities for using them to reach particular groups, making a start on an engagement plan. Already one of them – a listening sofa – has

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