A guest blog from The Democratic Society
Around the world democracy is struggling and needs strengthening. It’s time we ensured that people are placed at the heart of how decisions are made, how places are shaped, and how services are run. Local government is a key place where this vision will either be realised or sunk. In response to this challenge, Public Square is a two-year-long programme of research and action exploring how local government can go further in putting the voices of the people they serve at the heart of how they work. It is a collaboration between The Democratic Society and mySociety with funding from Luminate.
This exploration will be based on research in test sites across the UK where we will be working with councils and the communities they serve to look at what is already working well for involving people in the work of local government and what challenges and unmet needs remain. Drawing from this research we will then be prototyping techniques, approaches and tools that could respond to these gaps and push public participation to the next level. These resources we develop will be made freely available. We will also focus on making these resources work in a way that fits with other tools out there and that are freely adaptable by others.
We know that there are already many people working on this question. Often this is done from a wide range of different angles, and with advances not always being joined-up. A key aim of this programme is to reach out to this diverse community, learn from what is already known, and make sure that what we learn can have maximum impact for people working in this space. Throughout the project we will be sharing what we are working on and seeking views from people already working on this challenge.
How to get involved
Public Square really kicks off on 19th November 2018 with an event open to all at the People’s History Museum in Manchester where we will be learning together about where progress is at now and what is needed to take public participation further. You can sign up for free through this Eventbrite page: Public Square – register
If you want to know more you can also get in touch with us through firstname.lastname@example.org We are particularly keen to hear from councils who would like to take part in this programme of research. You can also follow our progress, and find ways of feeding in, through @PublicSquareUK and www.thepublicsquare.org.uk
We look forward to speaking with you.
Mat and Michelle
The Democratic Society
PechaKucha speakers wanted
We’re hosting a special PechaKucha Night in Huddersfield on Friday 16th February 2018 – and we’re looking for some speakers.
A PechaKucha Night is a fast-paced evening full of exciting speakers and topics. As usual, ours will have a distinctly democratic flavour. It’s a fringe event of Notwestminster 2018, a two day event bringing together people who have something positive to say about local democracy and who are up for the challenge of making it work better.
So if you’ve got something to say about local democracy, if you’ve a story to tell, or if you’ve got an idea to share, you might like to be one of our speakers on the night.
Each speaker will talk for 6 minutes 40 seconds on a theme of their choosing, following a “20 slides for 20 seconds” format. The slides advance automatically, so everyone gets exactly the same amount of time to speak – and you should be prepared to keep going!
Some of our previous talks have included: a conversation between dad and daughter about democracy, votes for women, the ‘joy’ of being a councillor, how Sheffield’s tech community responded to the refugee crisis, regional democracy compared to the Galactic Empire, and “The total and utter history of local government” (which turned out to be quite ambitious in less than 7 minutes).
We welcome talks on any aspect of local democracy, community life and other stuff you’re interested in.
Want to be a speaker?
Please contact us now if you’re interested in taking part. We’d love to hear your ideas.
Want to listen to the talks?
The event will be in Cafe Ollo at the Media Centre on Northumberland Street, from 7pm on Friday 16th February. Please come along to learn something new and be entertained. It’s a fun way to find out what inspires some of our local democracy advocates and to hear about people’s passions and interests. There are always a few surprises.
The Notwestminster PechaKucha Night is organised by the Media Centre in Huddersfield and the Notwestminster network.