Deliberative Citizenship and a Site Pop-Up

By Imogen Carr

We began the past week with consideration of deliberative citizenship. In a planning context, deliberative processes involve citizens in determining solutions rather than simply consulting them after solutions have been determined. This transfer of power from the authority to the citizen is necessary to achieve inclusive outcomes. Inclusive outcomes require inclusive processes.

We reiterated the necessity of engaging with a participant group which is representative of the area. Including those who may be difficult to reach such as children & families, people with challenging behaviours and culturally and linguistically diverse groups is vital to achieving plans toward inclusive public spaces. We discussed methods that might be used to foster engagement and linked this back to engaging ‘hard to reach’ communities.

The group workshopped the final site pop-up, with a particular focus on how to plan our activities to encourage engagement of ‘hard to reach’ groups and to get the most from our data. The attention the group paid to the barriers that might inhibit people’s engagement informed the decision to create an informal visioning activity around the BBQ. Drawing people in with free food and chatting informally will help to cross some barriers and yield positive data results. Further, the language the group plan to use – “tell us your ideas for your neighbourhood” – fosters a sense that the participants have agency over their neighbourhood.

The group decided to split activities across two sites: Butler St park and the space outside North Richmond Community Health Centre. Planning informal chats over the BBQ outside the health centre and community mapping and visioning activities at the park. Everyone got involved in figuring out the logistics of this event: creating a running sheet of materials required, assigning responsibilities, and planning how to facilitate the activities on the day.

Leading into our analysis phase, we discussed the distinction between description and analysis, exploring the role of each. While description vitally sets the context within which the data was collected, the analysis goes beyond to extrapolate meaning from the data. In the case of our ‘plan for inclusive public places’ the analysis will relate back to the researcher’s position (in relation to theory) to express normative recommendations. We briefly considered methods of analysis for different types of data including coding and visual analysis.

I’m looking forward to the pop-up event. I think engaging with the community at this informal event will be a productive activity for the group. Within the more relaxed group setting, I imagine people will feel more comfortable and hopefully this will result in good data sets as we move into our analysis phase.

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