Methodology and goals
// Methodology - How involve citizens in a participatory process?
The goal must be to present yourself and the goal for which you require the participation. An informal meeting facilitates interaction and trust-building between people.
In the meeting we must provide time for talk about:
- Who you are
- What do you want
- Why did you choose that community
- How you intend to achieve your goal
You should not use technical language or too difficult. Express yourself in a simple way. Within citizen engagement, participation and co-design methods, a usually reported challenge is related to bridging and translating professional and technical terminology into a language that can be easily understood and that people can connect to their daily lives and problems. The presentation should be short and possibly not frontal. Then you should sit down with the people and talk to them and verify that they have understood what you have said. We recommend using storytelling and bringing them solutions that can be touched to facilitate communication and to encourage an empathetic approach.
Every person who has an interest in, or who could be affected by, the issues under discussion must be encouraged to take part. Be clear at the start about what changes your project can or cannot promise and be clear about the mechanisms of the decision-making processes. Especially when a Public Administration try to engage citizens asking them to contribute to a project, it faces the problem to incentivize them with concrete benefits in exchange for their time, effort or behavioural change, signing a sort of implicit “pact”. Be sure you give people as much information as possible and explain where information is missing or is uncertain. Show respect for diverse views and cultures by making sure that minority views are taken on board. This is your opportunity to build trust by being courteous,empathic and helpful. Use existing channels to make sure that you report back to all interested people as fully and as quickly as possible. Put final decisions into action as soon as possible. This will strengthen participants’ belief that their involvement was worthwhile.
The location is very important. The first event can be hosted by the community you have contacted. You have to offer food, drinks, music or whatever.
// Goals - Why involve citizens in a participatory process this time?
To involve citizens it is necessary to establish a relation of trust and answer this question. The reasons may be different:
- To test a new methodology;
- To inform people about something and collect their opinions;
- To test a process or a product;
- To design a new service or product;
In opencare project the goals is to involve citizens in co-design sessions to encourage citizens:
- To bring out their needs or obstacles in life;
- To define solutions to respond to individual or collective problems.