“As Long As My Bins Get Lifted”…
A Citizen Engagement Project Across The Causeway Coast & Glens Council
Words will (and do) shape our thoughts and actions. For example, the stories we tell each other about our new local Councils will influence how we think about local government, our hopes & expectations and whether/how we decide to relate to our Council.
Whilst many of the stories we tell each other about politics might be cynical and hope-less, what if we changed the story and began talking about what is working, what we would like more of, what gives us pride and hope in our areas and in each other, what are we prepared to do and what might we need to let go of. What if we started from a different beginning: that our new Council delivers important services that matter to our neighbourhoods; that they are the first point of contact for many people engaging in local politics; and that they have increased powers as a result of local government reform and carry a significant civic leadership role. And why don’t we begin with bins – for many people the one service that everyone gets from their Council.
Q. What’s the project about?
The project supported by the Building Change Trust engaging with a wide range of citizens in the Causeway Coast & Glens Council area using a range of creative methods to:
* Collect stories & understandings of citizens’ relationships with Council, with community and place, and with each other;
* Imagine possibilities informed by stories of what has worked and is working;
* Explore what it would take to create relationships that work for people;
* Inform effective community planning within the Council with the belief that it open, fair and inclusive relationships will shape the success of community planning.
The project implemented three creative community engagement tools throughout the project: Pop Up Democracy; Community Visioning; Forum Theatre. http://civicactivism.buildingchangetrust.org/
Q. What are we going to do?
The project had four distinct phases:
1. (2015) Engagement with the general public across 20 different locations across the Council area through the performance of a street-theatre piece to gather initial perspectives & thoughts on identities, communities, public services and Council. These sites will include supermarkets, nail bars, buses, hairdressers, car boot sales, nightclubs / pubs; schools/FE Colleges; sporting fixtures; festivals; churches; benefits offices, workplaces and will represent a good cross-section of the 40 electoral wards across the Council. POP UP DEMOCRACY
2. (2016) Invitation to people to step into an ‘inside space’ following the street-theatre for a more focused conversation on experiences & possibilities in their relationship within their new Council and within their communities. COMMUNITY VISIONING
3. (2017) Invitation to be part of a residential to begin identifying key stories of change, power and possibilities informing a final public event using FORUM THEATRE to rehearse new realities and possibilities with key public service providers.
4. (October 2017 – June 2018) The next stage of the project “The BIG Dish Out” (2017/18) begun with a new additonal partner Triangle Housing. The programme of activities will use Participatory budgeting (PB) – A process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which communities decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget.
We will also be using a variety of creative social media tools contributing to wider public conversation. with the hashtag #dontbinyourvoice.
Q. Who’s Involved?
The WNoT partners involved in this project: Building Community Resource Centre; Beyond Skin; Charo Lanao-Madden; Corrymeela; Rural Community Network; Triangle Housing; CAN: Triangle Housing; Jez Hall: Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council; Building Change Trust; Collectively we bring a wide range of skills, experiences and passion for this work and project.
Q. What could success look like?
* Communities of practice stories as to how citizens engage with key public service providers and their new Council;
* List of new possible stories and first steps into bringing those stories into reality;
* Provide a temperature check as to how citizens see the possibilities of their new Council at the beginning of a community planning process;
* Number of and diversity of people engaged with and remaining involved throughout the length of the project .
* Giving voice to those who feel on the edges. For example: people from low income backgrounds; migrants; refuges & asylum seekers; members of the LGBT community; black & minority ethnic citizens…
* Tapping into and supporting people’s sense of agency & power in their neighbourhoods;
* Change in the stories we tell ourselves about each other and about politics;
* Contribution to participatory skills development among Council staff;
* Citizens with the skills and confidence to engage with their Council and other key public service providers.
Q. What a Learning Partnership with the Council could look like?
We are interested in establishing a mutual learning partnership with the Council. This would include a regular and effective communication process to share the learning from the project and its applicability as the Council develops its community planning & good relations/civic leadership functions. As an initial ask we would be interested in exploring:
1. The possibility of an initial meeting with a number of Council staff within the ‘refuse department’ in Oct/Nov to explain the project and explore interest in being involved.
2. The viability of a sticker being placed on all bins in January ‘16 that creatively communicates the themes of the project.
3. The possibility of engaging with elected representatives in January ’16 to inform about project.
4. The viability of being able to borrow a number of bins which could be transported/and or stored at each of the locations where the street performance will be taking place.