How to involve citizens in participatory processes?
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Local democracy is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Today, citizens want to get involved and be involved in the major decisions concerning their neighborhood or their community. For the latter, **setting up participatory processes is necessarily accompanied by a certain number of questions. How can these processes be built and led so that they are as effective and inclusive as possible? Which communication channels should be chosen? How to favor debate and the plurality of points of view?
Fluicity offers you a look at some of the essential points to properly communicate about your participatory project. And to arouse interest and commitment of the inhabitants.
Appeal to the personal motivations of the inhabitants**.
The first lever of commitment that the commune tends to put forward is that of civic duty. Although it is important, it must be combined with the personal motivation of each individual. The goal is to encourage a real long-term commitment](https://www.lagazettedescommunes.com/661495/comment-favoriser-une-diversite-de-publics-au-sein-des-demarches-participatives/). To do this, the community must be able to capture the interest of its population on specific topics.
Personal interest is often the trigger for mobilization. One informs oneself and takes time for this mobilization, to make it "worthwhile".
So how can we show that the subjects on which the citizen participation will be done are "worth it"?
By explaining in an educational way :
- the objective of the project,
- how it fits into the elected official's program,
- why the choice was made to use a participatory approach on this particular subject,
- what is expected of the citizens, the level of commitment required,
- the format and process of the participatory approach,
- the advantages that everyone can find in citizen participation.
In short, it is a question of framing the intention so that everyone finds their interest and legitimacy in it.
If the municipality is already using a participation tool, it is in its interest to build on the ideas expressed by citizens for its next projects. This will strengthen the confidence of the inhabitants and facilitate the famous feeling of personal interest.
This will build trust and facilitate the famous sense of self-interest.
One thing is important to understand: the goal is not necessarily to involve the entire population of the commune. It is better to define and target the population concerned by this particular project. The means of communication will thus differ according to the target**.
To reach the entire population, the municipality can turn to traditional means of information:
- the organization of public meetings or citizens' debates in municipal halls, in a brasserie or a café,
- An article, an article in the city magazine or an online platform for citizen participation.
To reach a more targeted population, it may choose to organize these events outside of traditional municipal spaces. For example, if the subject of the consultation concerns the improvement of the leisure activities offered by the municipality, it can organize a meeting in the Maison de la Jeunesse et de la Culture. The same principle applies to topics related to seniors, parents, or any other targeted population.
The more you diversify the processes and be creative in your ways of communicating, the more inhabitants you will reach. The goal is to have a constructive debate with a variety of viewpoints.
What place for social networks in participative processes?
Today, social networks play an important role in communication strategies. The municipality must invest in them in order to inform its inhabitants of citizen participation projects**, and thus reach a large number of people. Well-managed social networks are a way to capture the attention of a young population ready to get involved in issues that affect them directly (education, leisure, transport and mobility ...).
However, social networks can only be a place for communication, not debate. Contributions often amount to nothing more than comments, criticisms or poorly constructed ideas. A citizen participation platform such as Fluicity, whose postulate is that of a trusted third party, is designed to facilitate the debate, help the construction of ideas and the dissemination of clear information. Inhabitants and the municipality engage in a constructive participative process, in a space clearly identified for this purpose.
To facilitate access to information and help the citizen to understand the subject**.
The other step to get the inhabitants involved is the teaching of precise knowledge. This can concern the subject of the project or the functioning of citizen participation itself.
The implementation of "citizen workshops" can thus allow to transmit knowledge and skills, which will give to the participants levers of reflection, but especially a framework to propose their ideas. Moreover, these "citizen workshops" allow the empowerment of citizens for a long-term commitment on different subjects.
To animate these citizen workshops, it is possible to call upon specialists and facilitators, in order to help everyone develop their critical sense and their power to act. These workshops can take place in person, during playful meetings, or online through the sharing of articles, information, and training on a citizen participation platform.
Giving people the desire to get involved, making them understand the importance of action and debate, allows us to unite as many people as possible. But how to orchestrate all this from start to finish?
Animating the community throughout the project
To ensure quality citizen participation, the goal is to remain 100% transparent about the project's progress and objectives at every stage. To do this, a good follow-up and a good animation are essential.
Even if it necessarily implies the collaboration of many services, the animation of participative processes must be supervised by specific people within the municipality. It is important to define these referent persons throughout the project, so that all the actors involved (municipal services, elected officials and citizens) know who to contact directly.
These contact persons will also be the privileged interlocutors of the civic tech that designed the participation tool used. Simultaneous work between the municipality and the civic tech is essential to better understand the citizen participation methodologies and to benefit from a relevant support throughout the process.
Are you interested in this topic? Fluicity will tell you more about it very soon... Stay tuned !
Fluicity helps you to build and animate your participative processes
The organization of the participative process is facilitated by a citizen participation platform such as Fluicity, capable of combining information, ideation and co-construction. Fluicity offers several tools to facilitate collective decision making: call for citizen ideas, organization of surveys and participatory budgets. Contact us