As part of the Social Safari 2012 I worked on a case study for Stadsdeel Oost / City of Amsterdam, district East about how can citizens, in the case of budget monitoring of local projects, be more accountable to each other and the public good?
Made possible by Social Safari an initiative of Kennisland
The Kennisland Social Innovation Safari is a one-week program in which 30 participants from diverse backgrounds work together on complex issues for social organisations in Amsterdam and surroundings. We think the best solutions to complex issues are solved by teams as diverse as possible. For one week we create the perfect social innovation think tank. Imagine the thinking power of designers, consultants, social workers, entrepreneurs: all together. Imagine being part of that!
This are the members of the team
- Doekes Prakken > De Baak > http://www.debaak.nl
- Mariken Gaanderse > Fonkeling > http://www.fonkeling.com
- Zahra Ebrahim > Architextinc > http://www.architextinc.com
- Jonas piet >
- Koen de Boer > De Baak > http://www.debaak.nl
- Bas Kools > Local Intelligence > http://www.localintelligence.eu
Together we worked on a process of learning by doing, bringing people together from authorities and neighborhoods working together to create an communal understanding of each other and the situation they find themselves in. Here you find our project blog
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The municipality of Amsterdam, Stadsdeel Oost asked us a very brave question that went like this. How can citizens in the case of budget monitoring of local initiatives be more accountable to each other and the public good, and move from a vertical to a more horizontal accountability structure. In this way we aim to create less bureaucracy and create more trust and empowerment.
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And so we looked at the current situation, one where governments are at the top and communities are at the bottom. But soon we realised that in this situation there is a one way communication from the government is the producer to the community the consumer. So after our first day of listening and learning we made an assumption. It shouldn’t be anymore about lines but about circles and loops. With this new starting point we continued our investigation and this is where our learning journey began.
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To test our assumptions we designed two interventions. The first intervention was our Neighbourhood Ideas Festival which was about finding out how new projects can spark, can start and develop into a inspiration for others. The second intervention created the spaces that projects need to grow. We started to map the assets of the people involved, both from community and local government side. In this way we aimed to create a marketplace where needs can be expressed and offers can be placed.
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While talking to people from both government and neighbourhood, we realised that there are already many initiatives being organized. What we discovered is that both systems, governments and self organised communities are running parallel to each other, and that at this point only sometimes a connections take place through e.g. a participation broker. In other words, the neighbourhood has its self-organized networked systems, next to the government with its more industrial-like systems. A participatory democracy lives next to a representative democracy and both these worlds just don’t seem to come together.
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Think about this changing relation between government and its community as a relation a parent has with its child. When a child grows up the parent is not just suddenly letting go. Over time the relation changes and becomes more of a collaboration where both, adult and child, can help and are responsible for each other. The parent doesn’t just give the child money to take care of itself.
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Therefore, active citizens need an active government. But active does not mean engaging through money. Right now the money is the only currency to exchange with the government. It is like the local government as a shop where the only thing you can buy is money and the only thing on the shelves are the terms and conditions you are buying into.
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Instead of asking the other to change, we say: change the discourse, be the example! The government can be – or perhaps has to be – truly participating and not just facilitating. They have to be an enabler that at times shares the risk.
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We don’t have the solution but we believe that we can make a start by connecting both the government and the neighbourhood together and facilitate how this happens to make use of the best of both systems.
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We are still thinking in lines, however it is about creating loops to bring ideas alive, make projects happen and be successful. Therefore we present our eight principles as guide to start creating these loops, interconnecting governments and communities to work together.
- 11 - Our eight principles
- Define the essence of all people involved and create profiles to improve each others visibility and stimulate exchange.
- Create spaces where people can meet and actively engage with each other, this is about the loop, where experienced is being used.
- Bring stakeholders together in … spaces to actively participate and make sure that not only the people with the biggest mouth get to speak.
- These spaces need to be fun.
- People need to speak as people and not as governments and bring their assets to the table. People connect to people and not to institutions.
- Market places physical and online where knowledge and experience can be shared. A place for tips and tricks.
- Stimulate the creation of wish lists and facilitate match making, not only between citizens, but also between civil servants and citizens.
- Develop the rules of the game, from a form to collaborative process.
- 12 - The Dictionairy
- From a discussion to a dialogue
- From a meeting to a lunch
- From a project to a party
- From infrastructure to support
- From rules to criteria
- From risks to opportunities
- From a report to learning
- From a process to a journey
- And from accountability to responsibility!
( Take a look at the video of our presentation above)
The Safari is a twofold process. It’s a ‘solution brigade’ working with the partnerorganisation to find solutions for complex problems and an action learning program for social innovators. While solving problems they learn about social design and co-creation.The Three principles
In the Safari we work with the principles of Design Thinking. We work towards a solution like normal consultants, but we think as designers. We work together with all stakeholders and prototype the ideas that come up during the week.
Think local and global
Participants come from the Netherlands and from all over the world. This combination of international and local talents will combine an experienced inside look with a fresh outside look.
Diversity creates wisdom
We believe social innovation is realized by bringing different minds together. That is why we work with teams as diverse as possible. Social innovators can come from any sector: designers, consultants, social workers, (social) entrepreneurs, governmental officials etc. Together they create the most versatile and creative solutions to complex issues. For one week this will be the ideal social innovation thinktank, a dreamteam!