Mapping local issues

A Notwestminster 2017 workshop from Perry Walker and Bob Bollen

Notwestminster workshops ident

In this participative workshop we’ll be creating useful knowledge maps (or “argument maps”) of a particular issue. We’ll demonstrate how this could be useful for helping citizens and decision makers to understand each other’s views.

Some of the issues with consultations at present are:

  • There is often a high hurdle for contributions in terms of the requirements on anybody wishing to give their views.
  • They rely on the interpretation of those views by the decision-maker. This is often somewhat arbitrary, time-consuming and lacks accountability.
  • That summary of views is often a lengthy piece of text that does not work well as a piece of feedback to the contributors (this is one reason for the lack of accountability).

We believe that argument mapping can help with all these issues. We introduced the idea of argument mapping at Notwestminster 2016 and would like to take it one stage further at the 2017 event.

We will start by collecting views on a live issue that engages people and has an element of controversy. We may use the Democracy Experiments Day on Friday 10th February to collect those views. We will then map the views, using existing software such as Litemap, Debategraph and We may also produce paper maps.

We’ll use our workshop to make as useful a map as possible. Together we will:

  • Check the accuracy of the map with people who have contributed their views.
  • Get other participants to add their views.
  • Draw conclusions about the main attitudes to the topic and the scope for finding common ground.
  • Possibly present a case study.
  • Discuss whether and how mapping could be useful to participants.


The method lends itself to a range of uses. For example, it could be used to map the views expressed in a council meeting, to which citizens could then add their own views. Or the views of citizens could be used to create a separate map, so that their views could be contrasted with those of councillors. Workshop participants might like to try out some of these after the event.

What you can do next


Book your free ticket for Notwestminster 2017


Share and comment on twitter using these tags:

#notwestminster #mapping

or you can Leave a Reply on this page.

PerryPerry Walker
Talk Shop & Open Up

Perry is one of the founders of Talk Shop.  We ran events during the EU referendum period which were among the very few that allowed Leavers and Remainers to come together safely to understand and begin to appreciate each other’s positions. In 2017 we are concentrating on a small number of topics: immigration; Brexit; the progressive alliance; and a constitutional convention.

Perry runs the Open Up politics website which helps people engage quickly with complex ethical and policy issues. He is also a Fellow of the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a London-based think tank, an associate of Rhizome, a cooperative providing facilitation services and a Fellow of Involve.

Kirklees Democracy Commission
Kirklees Democracy Commission

All our Notwestminster 2017 workshops are based on themes that have been inspired by discussions with citizens, as part of the Kirklees Democracy Commission.

This workshop is inspired by…

Connecting citizens and decision makers

Notwestminster 2017 workshops list