Zebras: A Citizen Culture Project
In 2001, the City of La Paz launched the Zebra project as a citizen education programme involving at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 22. Participants dress in Zebra costumes and masks and with a mixture of singing, dancing, and calisthenics assist pedestrians and guide motorists to obey the road rules and regulations. The programme aims to raise public awareness about road safety and to reduce the number of infractions committed by drivers and pedestrians alike (e.g. not respecting crossings, ignoring traffic lights and getting on and off public transport between stations). In exchange for their engagement as civic educators, participants are paid the minimum wage, provided with free health care benefits and have access to further education and professional mentorship.
Youth4Climate Case Study
Applying artificial intelligence to citizen participation. As momentum grew around climate action, the organizers of Youth for Climate Belgium decided they needed a way to channel the energy and ideas being expressed every week in the street. In January 2019, a CitizenLab platform was set up for them: Youth4Climate, where users submitted ideas on how to tackle climate change. Discussions on the platform were as lively and passionate as they were on the streets: in just under 3 months, users posted over 1,700 ideas, 2,600 comments and voted over 32,000 times for the initiatives they wanted to support. The end goal was to submit a concise and actionable report to elected officials.The platform allowed for 1,700 ideas to be categorized by focusing on the most “popular” ones, creating 15 top priorities that Youth4Climate organizers will share with elected officials and an expert panel.
Youth Lead the Change: Participatory Budgeting Boston
Through this participatory budgeting program, youth had the opportunity to collect ideas for capital projects, distill those ideas into concrete proposals, hold a city-wide vote to determine which projects get funded, and directly determine how $1 million is spent to improve Boston for everyone. Boston’s mayor sought to empower youth (age 12 to 25) to become active participants in civic affairs of their city government through a process of participatory budgeting. This process empowered youth to get engaged and indicated that they can affect real change in their communities. This initiative promotes civic engagement, changes social behaviors, increases trust and communication between youth and local government and promotes education about budgetary and democratic processes.
Youth election project U18
Understanding politics can be daunting for young people. U18 helps to make it fun and accessible. Throughout the year, participants study manifestos, form parties and debate with politicians, culminating in a mock election which takes place a week ahead of the real elections. Any organisation dealing with young people, from schools to youth centres, can register as a ‘polling station’, and benefit from online teaching resources. With a current lack of political education taking place in schools, the scheme helped reach 198,365 young people from diverse backgrounds at the 2013 parliamentary election, and is ever growing both in size and reputation.
Yes We Camp: Les Grands Voisins
Yes We Camp was founded in 2013 to create and curate an “enabling” shared space, where everyone feels legitimate to take initiatives (inclusive). Yes We Camp is transforming defined spaces into open, generous and creative micro-territotires that are and feel open to anybody. The organization is using vacant buildings and outdoor sites whos owners are keen to lend for free for a short time span. The temporary aspect lowers the barrier for support for the implementation of the project.
Women Friendly City Project
Existing women’s policies prove to have difficulties with issues regarding women in various areas such as: education, environment, health, culture, transport, and housing policies, which all influence women’s’ everyday lives, because of a lack of gender-sensitive perspectives. Acknowledging the limitations of existing policies, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has adopted a new policy approach which, beyond gender equality, incorporates women’s perspectives and experiences in a broad range of city policies. The Women-Friendly City Project, as it is called, started in July 2007 and is ongoing. The policy aims to encourage social participation and to establish a woman-friendly socio-cultural environment by means of 90 projects.
Viração Magazine is a low-cost, effective print publication to spark the participation of children and teenagers in civic life and decision-making. It also helps adult readers understand and respect the perspectives of young people on issues of critical importance to the community. Today, through the content production from young to young, the project promotes the defense of youth rights and conects young people. The publications treat themes such as human rights, communication, youth, culture, life style and climate change.
Urban Action Learning Academy
PODER created the Urban Action Learning Academy to build the skills to take action, govern together, and prepare neighborhood leaders to exert local, democratic control over land, housing, work, and food. They are building towards an alliance of solidarity economy initiatives led by youth, immigrants, poor women, working families, and people of color. The Urban Action Learning Academy is designed to decolonize minds, promote consciousness-raising and healing, value community members as experts, view the personal experience as a window into the systems that shape our lives, and change our relationships to power. Edited by a team of community experts, the Urban Action Learning Academy includes bilingual English and Spanish popular education tools, activities, and skill building sessions.
United for Brownsville
United for Brownsville is a collaborative think tank of families and professionals who are improving the early childhood system in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Local stakeholders devise innovative projects that bring equity to essential health, educational, and social services for young children. Success is measured by how well infants and toddlers in Brownsville are prepared to lift off for a lifetime of success.
Turner Field Redevelopment
The 67 acre Turner Field site is one of the largest development sites in any metropolitan area in the U.S.. Historically, residents had been given little to no power in the negotiations that have shaped this site. Atlanta took a new approach. By engaging with the surrounding neighborhoods’ residents in an open, honest, and meaningful dialogue using online engagement tools and other channels, the City has created a community-generated vision for the site with the people. In Sherry Arnstein’s framework for civic engagement, the City partnered with residents, engaging thousands of people in the most accessible, equitable way possible.
The Piazze Aperte (Open Plazas)
The Piazze Aperte (Open Plazas) program was established by the City of Milan as a way of accelerating the creation of public spaces within the city. Spaces were designed by city staff and implementation was led by a local nonprofit, Retake Milano. Survey results showed that 84% would like the redesigned space to become permanent. Given the success of the first five interventions the city invited citizens to make proposals for future Piazze Aperte installations. This expansion was possible because of the removal of bureaucratic silos both within municipal government and between government and the community. Within the city, an “urban lab” division was created that brought together staff from urban planning, transportation engineering, and public space design.
synAthina: A Public Platform for Engaging Citizens in Reform
Austerity measures and Greece’s economic crisis have significantly reduced the operational capacity of Athens’ city government. To compound the problem, outdated regulations have stifled necessary reforms to make government work in leaner times, with trust between citizens and government eroding. At the same time, a vibrant civil society has emerged, with large numbers of citizens working together to improve their neighborhoods and communities. synAthina is an online platform to engage members of the community in problem-solving and reform. Hundreds of new volunteer opportunities have been posted on synAthina. The synAthina project team is routinely working to identify where outdated regulations stifle citizen engagement. Against the backdrop of Greece’s economic collapse, the synAthina vision is moving forward.
Sustain-A-Raisers is a program where teams of volunteers conduct sustainable home and yard makeovers that include the installation of raised garden beds, solar hot water systems, clotheslines (or “solar clothes dryers!”), rain barrels, compost bins, and cold frames for extending the growing season. The program is inspired by and modeled after the concept of barn raising – the original neighbor-helping-neighbor work party most popular among the Amish population in the early 1800s. G.A.L.A. applies this same model by mobilizing and training volunteers to work together to help communities take important steps to conserve energy, save money, increase food security, and protect vulnerable ecosystems. The program also provides a platform to strengthen teamwork, develop green collar job skills, and deepen a sense of place and pride among community members.
Livable City produces an annual season of Sunday Street events that reclaim car-congested streets for community health, transforming them into car-free spaces for all to enjoy. Routes are 1-4 miles in length, with fun, free activities provided by local nonprofits, community groups and small businesses. Sunday Streets’ mission is to: Create temporary open space and recreational opportunities in neighborhoods most lacking Encourage physical activity Foster community-building Inspire people to think differently about their streets as public spaces
Storefront Arts Campaign
Through a Neighborhood Challenge grant from the Department of Small Business Services, the Flatbush Junction Business Improvement District (BID) sought to generate economic and community impact in the Flatbush Junction corridor by promoting local businesses and culture, and strengthening business, community, and customer relations. 3×3 facilitated a workshop series to identify neighborhood assets and collaboratively develop and implement strategies for neighborhood wayfinding, identity building, and site activations.
The first two years are crucial for the successful integration of people who migrate to Vienna. To have a good start in a new country, it is vital to learn the language, to know about the structures and systems, but also to feel welcome and have equal rights as a new member of society. Vienna provides sustainable long-term measures to facilitate good relations between all citizens in the city. The initiative Start Wien is an important sign for new migrants, showing them that they are welcome in Vienna, that Vienna is interested in their qualifications and in their participation in social, cultural, economic and political issues, respecting their cultures, traditions and appreciating their mother tongues. The project has been presented as best practice example in different contexts at national and international level, and has been considered as a model for a nationwide integration programme by the Austrian State Secretary for Integration.
South Division Corridor Plan
The South Division Plan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a ~3-mile long (850 acres) area specific plan is based in four major principles: meaningful engagement, development without displacement, economic opportunity and quality of life. Throughout the 16 month planning process the city has deployed innovative ways to involve residents in learning, co-creating and prioritizing plan actions. Events to activate the community included a fashion show and community members actively prioritized interventions to be developed into detailed plans.
Solo Kota Kita
In 2010 Kota Kita began working with then-Mayor Joko Widodo and local leaders in Solo to collect data about the city’s many neighborhoods. Data about everything from access to water, sanitation, poverty levels, and the number of children enrolled in school were collected from different neighborhoods and represented in mini-atlases to provide a resource for musrenbang, the annual participatory budgeting forum held by residents. This process supports evidence-based advocacy for improving public services, tailoring urban planning decisions to the community while encouraging data interpretation skills and self-representation.
Share an Idea
Following the Canterbury earthquakes, Christchurch City Council launched the Share an Idea community engagement process, in which the public submitted over 106,000 ideas for the Christchurch rebuild. The community’s vision was for a liveable, vibrant, green and prosperous city. This public feedback formed the basis of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan which included A Transitional City Programme, to be led by the Christchurch City Council. The Transitional City Programme includes support for recovery in three areas – social, sense of place, and business. The timeframe is ongoing, as the recovery is expected to take 20 years.
SF Play Streets
Play Streets SF is a program that empowers San Francisco residents to transform their block into an accessible, car-free open space on a regular basis for children, seniors, and neighbors to enjoy. With a mission to create healthier, more connected and resilient communities, Play Streets SF provides residents from across San Francisco with all the basics they need to reclaim their street for community health and connection from hassle-free permitting to free safety equipment, outreach tools, and play equipment. Each Play Street is brought to the community by an Organizing Team of residents and community members who kick things off by hosting a series of 3 or more health-focused block parties on a designated block. As capacity and interest grow, Organizing Teams can expand to unlimited sessions on their Play Street block and provide more community members with access to open space and recreation.
School of Citizenship and Coexistence
The School of Citizenship and Coexistence [Escuela de Ciudadania y Convivencia] supported by the Malaga City Council is a participatory training, research and meeting space for citizens, entities and associations residing the city. The School provides a space to energise and encourage active citizenship, social inclusion, volunteerism and simultaneously promotes peaceful multicultural coexistence.
Sauhard Youth Fellowship
Sauhard Youth Fellowship is an initiative for students of Ahmedabad to explore the journey of inner and outer transformation. The fellowship is aimed at building young leaders for a better future for ‘all’. We believe that the best way to build youth leadership is to let young people connect with the society that they live in and understand the process of social change. The fellowship also provides opportunity to the fellows to learn various communication skills to express their ideas, views, concerns and feelings on social change to be better leaders for tomorrow.
São Paulo Public Innovation Labs
São Paulo’s municipal government has created Public Innovation Labs to address complex policy and service issues through collaborative approaches and innovative methodologies. The city of São Paulo, like many cities, faces complex technological, economic and social challenges. Simultaneously there is and increasing demand from citizens for social participation, greater transparency, less bureaucratic governing and better public services. To create new ways of solving recurrent complex public issues, the municipal government has implemented two Public Innovation Labs, (011).lab and MobiLab, to help build an innovation ecosystem and promote an innovation culture within the municipality.
Reimagining the Civic Commons: Philadelphia
In 2015, Knight Foundation and William Penn Foundation invested $11 million to create a “civic commons collective”. Philadelphia serves as a living laboratory, with participating leaders and organizations spending three years exploring new ideas and piloting new strategies to inspire cities across the country. The five newly reimagined civic assets are located in neighborhoods outside of Center City and include a riverfront bike and pedestrian trail, a renovated public library and park space, an elevated park, a nature center/outdoor youth education center, and new active and passive recreation improvements for West Fairmount Park. The public, non-profit and private sector organizations working together in Philadelphia as the Civic Commons Collective are fostering a collaborative environment among the city’s community network, while repurposing and repositioning pieces of the city’s existing urban infrastructure as new civic amenities.
Recovery of La Balanza Cultural neighborhood
In 2002, the first Festival Internacional de Teatro de Calles Abiertas (Fiteca) was held in La Balanza, a district in Lima, Peru. Six years later, capitalizing on its success, local organizations launched a new artistic movement, Fitekantropus, to help residents to appropriate their city in creative ways. As a result, La Balanza is transforming into a lively neighbourhood where residents interact with their environment. To achieve this, the local community conducted a participatory process to reimagine and redesign physical space. This process increased communication between residents and is building an inclusive collective through social experimentation.
Putnam Rail Trail
The Putnam Rail Trail project in Yonkers, New York, is a rail-to-trail project being led by Groundwork Hudson Valley (GWHV). As the city of Yonkers’ partner on the project, GWHV convened a steering committee comprising neighborhood churches, nonprofits, Yonkers’ Municipal Housing Agency, and other city agencies and stakeholders, to ensure that the project reflects the vision of residents living in the communities along the abandoned rail line.
Public & Collaborative: Designing Services for Housing
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers apply for government-subsidized housing units each year. In 2012, it was not unusual for more than half the applicants for a particular development to be ineligible for the unit they were applying for. Public Policy Lab worked with agency staff at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, housing developers, community-based organizations, and members of the public, to collaboratively develop a set of new informational materials about the affordable housing process. Crucially, they also designed three new community-based, public/private distribution channels for New Yorkers to access affordable housing information in the context of their daily lives.
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission (LACAC) developed a new arts-related asset map and visioning document that emerged from an in-depth community input process and was aimed precisely at the idea of having the community voice its own identity. LACAC engaged in a close conversation with the community to identify its needs and aspirations, translating these into a long-term program for the arts. For an area defined as much by its adjacent neighborhoods as by its own internal tensions, art could become a way to coalesce community. Numerous local organizations served as on-the-ground community organizers, conducting outreach, hosting focus groups, connecting the Project Willowbrook team with additional stakeholders, and giving team leaders feedback on the project. Their intensive engagement gave the project validity in the eyes of residents, which ultimately strengthened the project’s content, audience, and relevance.
The OpenBorough project was established in Amsterdam-West to trial the use of digital tools together with offline interactions to enable more collaborative engagement between the council and citizens. OpenBorough aims to encourage citizens to share their ideas, vote or undertake action and mobilise their creativity and knowledge. The project also intends to provide public servants with the opportunity to become more skilled with new working processes and methodologies.
PolitTisch Dialogue on Migration
PoliTisch is a participatory deliberation format created by Foraus, a crowdfunded think-tank, promoting migration dialogue across Switzerland. A host invites representatives from different sectors, political orientations and backgrounds to a personal discussion on the topic of migration. From the starter to the dessert, fundamental questions as well as concrete recommendations for action are discussed. In the confidential atmosphere of a common dinner, bridges can be built and visions can be created that go beyond the politics of the day. Between 2016 and 2018, foraus organised over 50 policy tables with more than 500 personalities: in all language regions of Switzerland, in urban and rural areas, as well as in Rome, Paris and Berlin. As a result, foraus published the publications «PoliTisch – 3 Jahre Migrationsdialog» and «Neuland» (NZZ Libro).
Policing Sentiment Surveys
In New york City, Elucd measures how residents feel about vital questions essential to running a city ー like whether they feel safe in their neighborhoods and how much they trust their local police. The Elucd scores provide current, hyper-local measurement — like a credit score for a neighborhood. We use the latest technology to gather opinions from residents of every neighborhood. Ongoing measurement of sentiment unlocks actionable insights, like what drives change and how trust and safety can be improved.
In 2016, citizens in Płock, Poland, were consulted on the future of cycling, using an online realtime Delphi platform with an integrated spatial visualisation module. This allowed residents to engage with each other’s ideas through iterative interactions. Citizens discussed expected cycling path trajectories, their desired usage, preferred path types and possible future locations of bike stands. There was significantly more alignment on preferences among participants who used the Delphi platform compared to those who were questioned in traditional interviews. Overall, the consultation process shaped the city bicycle transportation policies at a strategic level, especially for network development, prioritisation, and safety issues.
Play More B’More
Baltimore City leadership, the private sector, the philanthropic community, and child serving community organizations came together to address the city’s toughest challenges by prioritizing the needs of kids and families. Through the Play More B’More initiative, Baltimore takes action to make it as easy as possible for all kids, particularly kids growing up in poverty, to get the play they need to thrive. It is a powerful example for other cities to follow. Children were given the opportunity to design their dream playrgounds and through facilitation by Kaboom! volunteers, city leadership, kids and philanthropic partners launched a series of co-created play spaces.
Participatory Public Bus Transit Procurement
The local government of the rural Outer Hebrides chain of islands in Scotland gave citizens a formal role in all aspects of its $3 million public bus transport procurement. Citizen groups participated in developing the needs, specs, evaluation criteria, carried out evaluation and participate in regular contract management. The process has proven to deliver both 15% in savings, as well as more diversity in how services are delivered to meet specific local needs. Citizens are becoming more knowledgeable about transit and will have the capacity to engage in more innovation as contracts are renewed.
Participatory Housing Construction
Echale a tu casa trains and funds communities to develop their own quality housing using sustainable construction methods. It is a social construction provider, building capacity and addressing the bottom of the pyramid needs for housing of millions of families in Mexico.
Paint the Town
In 2017, the City of Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) launched a pilot program called Paint the Town. OakDOT’s Paint the Town program has become a model for how cities can address the major barriers for community members to undertake a project of their own. The city has waived permit fees and provided street closure materials at no cost to the applicant, while OFPI provided funds for paint and supplies as well as design assistance and installation day support.
CDRC identified four highly-trafficked areas across Oxford Place, A Houston Housing Association community, to redesign into colorful, playful spaces. They asked kids to use their imaginations and draw what they’d like to see. Armed with creative ideas, the CDRC returned to hire youth interns. Susan knew that having teenagers on the project was an opportunity to get new perspectives for the project design, and to develop the skills of local youth. The interns took part in workshops, where they learned why architecture design is important, and what it means to be a designer. They also chose quotes and patterns for the sidewalks. Beyond the teenage interns, kids of all ages in the community were involved with the project.
Neighbourhood assembly as community
Camden Council has a vision for an open council, where all citizens have a say and people and agencies come together to get things done. Camden’s Health and Wellbeing Board set out to develop a unique, citizen-led approach to examine the local issues around health and wellbeing and explore opportunities for the Council and health partners to work in closer partnership. The Neighbourhood Assembly is a neighbourhood-based pilot delivered by residents and the contributions of local and community-based organisations contributed to the process.
New York City’s homeless shelters are intended to provide temporary housing, and clients are supported by shelter staff in seeking new permanent housing. Public Policy Lab led human-centered research to identify what best practices make some homeless shelters ‘positive deviants’ that achieve much better rehousing rates for clients. In addition to focus group-style information sessions, also conducted more than 200 hours of field research at 12 shelter sites. The discovery phase (November 2018-April 2019) led to recommendations on how to improve the rehousing process are being further developed, tested in pilots, and evaluated for acceptance and value.
Meeting Place partnered with four neighborhood associations and a team of multidisciplinary artists to encourage new connections and relationships with residents who reflected the diversity within their own communities and to create artwork(s) that celebrate the people and places that make up each area. Monthly arts-based workshops were held on topics that aimed to increase civic engagement, pride, and unity and that would ultimately culminate in the creation of four separate neighborhood art projects, called “Gateway Arts Projects.”
Masterplan for Energy Transition
Dortmund came up with a plan to lay the groundwork for an energy transition across all sectors of society. The plan centred on a participation process enabling citizens, scientists, the energy industry and business and political communities to share their experiences and start shaping a new vision. In five citizen/expert workshops on the key topics of Energy Education, Energy Poverty, Mobility, Resources and Business, more than 150 citizens participated. They developed project ideas, described challenges and achieved broad consensus on how to handle these demands. The broad participation process aimed at creating understanding and acceptance to gain ambassadors for energy transition in all parts of society. This process was coordinated by a project team and overseen by a steering committee led by the lord mayor.
On June 24-25, 2011, people all over the world signed up to help the people of Christchurch, NZ, think about their future in the foresight game Magnetic South. Using IFTF’s Foresight Engine, they brought tremendous enthusiasm to the questions that face Christchurch in the next decades—so much so that they filled the site to capacity with 8,889 microforcasts. Magnetic South was one of a series of Christchurch City Council-supported public engagement activities following major earthquakes that affected Christchurch and Canterbury in 2010 and early 2011.
Little Roady Evaluation
Little Roady is an autonomous shuttle pilot in Rhode Island. The project is currently undergoing an exceptionally thorough impact evaluation
In June 2019, the Flemish city of Leuven launched its first large-scale participation campaign under the slogan “Leuven, maak het mee” (co-create the city). The goal was to gather citizens’ ideas for the strategic munti-annual plan from 2020 to 2025. The city launched a digitial participation platform for the 101,000 inhabitants for citizen participation. In the first phase of the project, over 3,007 citizens registered on the online platform and shared a total of 2,331 ideas. The top 5 ideas were related to mobiltiy, streets & squares, nature & biodiversity, housing, sustainable development.
Leeds Migrant Access Project
The City of Leeds has harnessed the strengths of migrant communities to help growing numbers of new arrivals, fleeing war or looking for a better life, settle into the city. The city’s belief is that a citizen-led approach would enable communities, in the first instance, to identify their unique needs, and to develop and implement their own solutions to address those needs. The Migrant Access Project is a way for those who have already made links in Leeds to help others. It aims to reduce pressure on highly impacted services. It does so by raising awareness among new arrivals of how the system works, and by helping them put down roots through strengthened relations with existing settled communities.
Leadership Centre for People with Disabilities
The establishment of a National Leadership Center for People with Disabilities (NLCPD) serves as a national and international model to empower and strengthen people with disabilities to be leaders. This project has had a powerful impact on public policy, and on shaping legislation and regulations at the local and national levels. For example, the self-advocacy group of people with intellectual disabilities has led to a groundbreaking amendment to the Legal Capacity and Guardianship Law passed by the Israeli Parliament’s Ministerial Legislative Committee.
In 2013, Zaragoza has responded to the economic crisis by transforming the way the city supports and strengthens entrepreneurialism. Inspired by the concept of the collaborative economy, based on a philosophy of collective responsibility and the sharing of human and physical resources, La Colaboradora (The Collaborator) was born. In this collaborative workspace members work on their own entrepreneurial, social and creative projects and exchange ideas, services and know-how through a time bank system. Aimed at entrepreneurs, freelancers, creatives, contractors, NGOs and activists, the project started with 100 members chosen on the basis of their talents and what they can bring to the community, such as IT, design or administrative experience, and what they need in exchange.
Kortrijk Digital Referendum
In 2019, the City of Kortrijk (76.265 inhabitants) ran the its first digital referendum on the question: “Do you agree that the centre of Kortrijk should be car-free for a fixed Sunday every month?” To ensure that everyone would make an informed decision, Kortrijk set up an information campaign to shine a light on both the positive and negative arguments. Ultimately, almost 10,000 of all 60,000 citizens with voting rights participated in the poll. That makes for an impressive participation rate of 16%.
Jump @ MARTA
Enhancing the “in-between” space under the Decatur MARTA station would serve 3,800 residents who walk through these dead spaces multiple times a day. Kids wait under the bridge to catch the school bus, neighbors walk and ride bikes under the bridge and cars traverse the corridor daily. Hundreds of community members came to the first mural engagement. Milagros Collective turned the community’s colorful dreams of playful art into reality.
iPlay Miami Streets
iPlay Miami Streets transformed everyday spaces that were already being used for play into safe, designated playspaces for the kids and families of five communities in Miami. These spaces brought play areas closer to children who may not be able to reach parks. Now, kids are able to play games their parents once played, like hopscotch, twister and tic-tac-toe. NET actively brainstormed different ways to engage the community in the project and ultimately decided to recruit five local artists, each to design a street. One artist had more interaction with the neighborhood kids than expected. While painting his street, he noticed kids watching him from afar. When asked if they wanted to help, the kids eagerly agreed.
City Repair is a Portland nonprofit organization that promotes placemaking projects by transforming streets into community spaces. Its most popular initiative, Intersection Repair, encourages community members to work together to build gathering spaces by making creative use of the right of way. As a result of the popularity of these projects, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) created a streamlined permitting program called Street Paintings. For all proposals, PBOT requires a signed petition from all residents with properties adjacent to the mural and within 400 feet along the road that is being painted. The grass-roots movement to reclaim public space for community use began in 1996 among Portland neighbors who came together to organize. Over time, the group eventually gained municipal support by demonstrating that these projects shared many of the city’s planning goals for improving quality of life and creating public safety by bringing communities together. – 1-25 years (ongoing) – Art is community-determined for each site – Cost: Materials ($500-$3,000)
Instituto Nossa Ilhéus
Instituto Nossa Ilhéus is a non-profit to cultivate municipal citizenship, addressing both population and politicians. On one hand, it connects citizens with their civic role, engaging them through radio, social media, theatre, and workshops. On the other, it monitors politicians and their work, reminding them of their public role. The institutes provides a curriculum to educate citizens, carries out socio-economic monitoring of progress toward key societal outcomes, and through advocacy promotes public policies that work by taking the voice of citizens and evidence into working groups and other forms of local policy making.
The Laboratorio de Gobierno in Chile’s central government brought users, doctors, nurses, health officials and bidders together through a multi-stage contracting process to tackle long wait times in primary healthcare. Finalists at each stage received growing stipends to support their participation, prototyping and pilots. Winning solutions were impactful in reducing waiting times, cost effective and had wide acceptance from users, funders and regulators – resulting in faster adoption. Impacta Salud allowed the government to explore a large number of innovations in the market with deep stakeholder participation.
In 2017/8 the City of Mesa engaged over 67,000 participants on their strategic planning and capital improvement budgeting process using online engagement tools and other channels. Imagine Mesa was led by Mayor John Giles, the Mesa City Council, and an Advisory Committee of local leaders. In November of 2018, voters approved $300 million in municipal bonds to bring these ideas to reality.
He Ao Hou
He Ao Hou, which means ‘a new world’ in Hawai’ian, was created by 13 Kanaka Maoli (native Hawai’ian) and two non-native teenagers at a three-week workshop in Honolulu. The participants, who were inspired by their ancestors’ tradition of long-distance navigation by the stars, created a game set in the future that is entirely in the Hawai’ian language. The aim was to create a virtual environment informed by different perspectives and inspire young indigenous people to help create technology less plagued with cultural bias.
Harvey Milk Promenade Park
Long Beach partnered with its LGBTQ community to develop Harvey Milk Promenade Park and Equality Plaza. It is much more than a public space honoring an icon of the gay-rights movement. It also will be an example of civic innovation in action. Everything about the park — from the memorial wall honoring local LGBT leaders to the placement of pingpong tables — was co-designed with the public. In addition, the city used an innovative procurement process to purchase the park’s outdoor furniture, one that allowed residents to try out tables, chairs, and mobile-device charging stations before the city invested taxpayer money.
Happy Lane engaged the community through a public art installation that was supported by the community to spark conversations about existential questions in public. TelHi transformed the street outside its office into an exercise course. Along the way, brightly colored signs would guide visitors through a series of short activities, including skipping, hopping and jumping in place. At the “cool-down” station, visitors would browse nutrition tips, before arriving at a chalkboard posing the ultimate prompt, “What makes me happy?”. The project was considered risky by aiming for emotional and physical engagement, but the community turned up to do just that.
Green Schoolyards America
Green Schoolyards America inspire and enable communities to enrich their school grounds and use them to improve children’s well-being, learning, and play while contributing to the ecological health and resilience of their cities. To build demand and exicitment for green schoolyards they use a methodology for convening school communities and other stakeholders to look at a blank slate of asphalt and envisioning something new. This ensures that young people’s voice are heard, with children at the drawing board.Other key design principles inlcude making sure that the project is owned by more than just a non-profit, but the community themselves.
Grants to Power Neighborhood Action
The Hague is harnessing the commitment, time and skills of citizens to help achieve its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040. The city allocated €1.4 million to its sustainability scheme, from which grants of up to €8,000 are offered to citizens with ideas for improving the environment or reducing energy and emissions in their neighbourhood. Grants help neighbours become a sustainable association or foundation with a feasible idea. City staff are available even on weekends to provide technical assistance, connect to departments, businesses and overcome barriers to get ideas off the ground.
Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin
GAVA uses community organizing to improve equitable access to healthy lifestyles by engaging and developing community leaders who identify, initiate, and lead efforts to reduce barriers to healthy food and safe physical activity in their neighborhoods and schools. Rather than simply delivering programs, GAVA provides opportunities for residents to engage and take ownership in the built environment, policy, and health promotion. The collective efficacy of this network encourages peers, friends, and neighbors to champion a culture of health in their daily lives, and to civically and socially engage to support positive changes in their community environment.
Girls Leadership programme
Mashhad is the second largest metropolis in Iran with a population of over 3 million residents. Like most large cities it faces sustainability issues such as air pollution, increasing population and limited green space. The Girl’s Leadership programme developed by the Mashhad Municipality provides an opportunity to educate the female student population about urban sustainability and simultaneously encourage participation in civic affairs. The average age of the target group ranges from 8 to 11 as research indicates that when young people are exposed to leadership and team-work behaviours at an early age, they will more likely develop these talents as they grow older. In Iranian culture women play a significant role in influencing the family unit in community matters and this is a fundamental reason for focussing the programme on girls.
GHGs Emission Program in Household Carbon Bank
Gwangju’s Carbon Bank system calculates reduced amounts of carbon dioxide through voluntary energy-saving efforts by household (regarding electricity, city gas, and waterworks) and turn them into points. Then it provides those points to participating households, thus helping them to save money. Kwangju Bank issues participating households the Carbon Green Card through which households receive points. Through the system, the city can analyze and evaluate reduced amounts of greenhouse gas emissions each year and expand the system through continual monitoring in the years ahead. While the city pays for educational and operating costs, a Green Star Network is responsible for implementing the education and promotion activities. Greenhouse gas emissions have decreased each year, most recently by 135,000 tons.
Functional zero – ending homelessness
Phoenix, AZ has achieved functional zero – meaning that it is one of 11 communities in the US that have effectively eliminated homelessness. The methodology “Build for Zero” was developed by Community Solutions, a non-profit building tools, practices and practitioner communities to support communities in eliminating homelessness. The methodology focuses on maintaining accurate data on each individual or family experiencing homelessness and responding to each case instead of treating the homeless as a popultation. Around these cases, stakeholders inside city hall and other organizations providing services develop shared action plans to solve homelessness one case at the time.
Fitzgerald Land Stewardship
The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project is an initiative led by the City of Detroit to stabilize and strengthen a neighborhood by transforming publicly owned vacant land and buildings into community assets. Rather than work on one lot at a time, the project is focused on holistically addressing every publicly owned vacant building and lot at once for maximum impact and effectiveness. The City has been working with residents and other stakeholders to develop a vision for the project and is adding more partners to turn it into a reality.
Finding Places brought together Hamburg residents to identify optimal locations to provide housing for a growing number of refugees in the city. The participants were engaged through a combination of colour-coded LEGO bricks, augmented reality, touch feedback and geographical simulation algorithms, which allowed people to understand urban land use patterns and propose housing sites.
Enlisting Talent to Change the City
Baltimore Corps was founded in 2013 to deliver better ways for the most talented people to go to work solving the world’s most important challenges. Baltimore Corps supports a network and builds robust, equitable pipelines to enlist talent in advancing Baltimore’s most promising social innovations. Core to the Baltimore Corps values are a focus on advancing racial equity and justice in the city; improving sector effectiveness; and putting Baltimore first.
Engaging Communities around Autonomous Vehicles
San Jose is tinkering with the idea of autonomous vehicles (AV) and asked private companies to pilot AV in the city, hoping the technology could equip the underserved with mobility alternatives as well as incentivize people to drive their own cars less and reduce emissions. San Jose’s organized a pop-up in a park. For two weeks welcomed locals to join a team of fellows and researchers in conversation. The goal: to redesign community engagement in neighborhoods like Buena Vista to include people who haven’t been included in civic dialogue before.
Baltimore Corps was founded in 2013 to deliver better ways for the most talented people to go to work solving the world’s most important challenges. The Elevation Awards provide planning grants of $10,000 and personalized support to people of color who are Baltimore City residents piloting novel approaches to strengthen Baltimore communities. The aims of the Elevation Awards are to directly leverage the assets of communities to pioneer new solutions in social entrepreneurship; elevate leaders of community solutions; and support the early-stage pipeline of social entrepreneurs in Baltimore. At the conclusion of the 11-month grant period, awardees will have the opportunity to showcase their projects to prospective funders.
Edinburgh in Bloom
Edinburgh in Bloom brings together individuals and organisations to help make the city more attractive and sustainable. It encompasses a range of initiatives, such as planting flowers alongside streets and in parks and conserving threatened species. Community participation is a central feature of the initiative. It funds community projects, and helps set up groups and mobilise volunteers. For example, a ‘garden share’ scheme allows people without a garden to grow food and flowers, and a ‘garden aid’ service helps elderly or infirm residents look after their gardens. Finally, the initiative is about encouraging environmentally sustainable practices, such as rain water collection, developing cycle infrastructure and replacing street lighting with energy efficient LED bulbs.
e-Adept is a life-changing, mobile phone based navigation tool which enables visually impaired persons to move around Stockholm independently. It was made possible thanks to a new and ambitious approach to procurement and an agile contract. Overall, the pilot helped deliver city-wide value by increasing the freedom, mobility and employment opportunities of end users, while resulting in savings for relatives and city services. Visually impaired end users were not only involved in the earliest stage of e-Adept, but also participated in the development of the final product.
DreamRiders: Planet Protector Academy
DreamRiders Production’s ‘Planet Protector Academy’ (PPA) founded in 1997 supports children to become environmental change agents and then leverages the child’s new role to shape their family’s day-to-day lifestyle and practices. PPA is delivered to elementary school classrooms via an online platform. It is built around video segments in which environmental super hero characters call on children to be protagonists in the story of changemaking. Students are encouraged to take the environmental sterwardship offline into real-life change. By encouraging learning and action among young people, the organization is creating new habits and long-term change for youth and their communities.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI): City of Baldwin
Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) is transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where New Yorkers want to live, work and raise families. Participating communities are awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key projects. Hempstead proposed the creation of a zoning overlay district to encourage investment and redevelopment within the Corridor. Public meetings were held starting on August 30, 2018 to present the proposal and gather feedback from the public. The vision from these meetings and plans to help guide future investment in downtown Baldwin.
Dorothea Dix Park Master Plan
The City of Raleigh wants to create America’s next great public park. Over the 18 month public engagement effort, over 65,000 residents participated on the Master Plan using online engagement tools and other channels. In February of 2019, the Master Plan was adopted unanimously by Raleigh City Council.
Crowdsourcing Mexico City Constitution
Mexico City was faced with a massive task: drafting a constitution. Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, who oversaw the drafting and adoption of the 212-page document, hoped to democratize the process. He appointed a drafting committee made up of city residents and turned to the Laboratório para la Ciudad (LabCDMX) to engage everyday citizens. LabCDMX conducted a comprehensive survey and employed the online platform Change.org to solicit ideas for the new constitution. Several petitioners without a legal or political background seized on the opportunity and made their voices heard with successful proposals on topics like green space, waterway recuperation, and LGBTI rights in a document that will have a lasting impact on Mexico City’s governance.
Copley Road Better Block
The Copley Road Better Block worked to reimagine Copley Road between Hawkins and Nome Avenue in Akron, Ohio. To turn the Copley/Hawkins intersection into a destination, we knew we had to increase public life and eyes on the street. We proposed removing all of the parking in front of the buildings to create a public space. In the newly reclaimed space, we created a series of three parklets that functioned as both seating for attendees and intimate venues for local bands and performing artists. One resident said, “I haven’t walked or sat down on Copley Road since I was a kid. That’s what it used to be, and we are trying to bring it back.”
In 2016, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance installed St. Pete’s first asphalt intersection mural, Common Ground, as part of the city’s SHINE Mural Festival, a city-wide mural festival highlighting local and international artists. The installation took place at an intersection in a central location of the city after the Arts Alliance saw the activity as an opportunity to involve the community in the festival. In 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs recognized mural art as an important practice in the city and awarded the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, an umbrella arts nonprofit supporting the city’s cultural sector, with a $25,000 grant to initiate the SHINE Mural Festival. – The Arts Alliance led a public engagement campaign and promoted the insallation to the community, inviting them to take part – 1 Month – Cost: Materials ($4,000), Design Fee ($1,000), Labor (volunteer)
Civic Lab is an accelerator program to develop and launch pilot projects for new and existing programs, plans, and/or policies. Civic Lab teams from cities and counties are guided to develop a pilot project in a short timeline. Civic Lab is modeled after best practices from start-up and technology accelerators—identifying a clear challenge statement and key partners, and then working to develop flexible pilot projects. • Received Outstanding Achievement in Innovation award by the Alliance for Innovation. • 8/10 pilot projects launched within 1 year • $1M in dedicated funding matched with over $2M in additional private and public sector funding • Innovative procurement process allowed a bench of pre-qualified vendors to engage and design pilots with the eight project teams • Grew program from 8 to 12 teams from Year 1 to Year 2
Civic Engagement to inform Boulder’s Housing Action Plan
The City of Boulder and Code for America partnered on “Housing Boulder,” a community engagement process to inform Boulder’s 2015/2016 Housing Action Plan. Housing Boulder was launched in 2013 as a comprehensive housing strategy to help determine community priorities for the expansion and preservation of diverse affordable housing choices in the city. The City committed to involving community members that may not have participated in city planning processes in the past.
City talks on sustainable energy: the silent majority speaks
Utrecht initiated a democratic experiment to share and broaden responsibility for creating an energy plan to help it become climate neutral by 2030. Energy affects everyone, but Utrecht found that discussions on an energy action plan usually only attracted those citizens with a special interest in the subject. Instead, the city wanted to reach people who aren’t normally a part of the discussion. So Utrecht invited 10,000 citizens, chosen at random, to help draw up the city’s new energy action plan. The plan will map out Utrecht’s journey to carbon neutrality by 2030. Of the 10,000 citizens, Utrecht selected 166 to help set out the city’s energy transition, together with experts and stakeholders. Entrusting this task to citizens has shaken up traditional thinking, generated novel ideas and created ambassadors for sustainable energy.
Citizen-led governance of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara
The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara (AMG) faces a range of environmental, social, economic and planning issues that can only be resolved through collaboration between individual municipal government bodies that comprise the area. To address this, the AMG administration established IMEPLAN (Metropolitan Planning Institute of Guadalajara Metropolitan Area) to view, assess and resolve issues from a metropolitan point of view instead of individual municipal ones. The IMEPLAN initiative is the first of its kind in Mexico. The central idea of IMEPLAN is to involve municipalities, citizens and experts in a participatory planning process through collaborative roundtables and workshops that are supported by an educational curriculum and encourage all stakeholders to re-imagine and plan the city they wish to live in.
Child-Centered Solutions for Philadelphia’s Youth Offenders
The idea behind the Juvenile Justice Hub is to create a safer, family friendly space where people feel comfortable to reach out for support. When the team mocked up a family room where parents could meet their social worker, they included toys to keep smaller children busy, whilst their parents discussed the family situation. However, parents fed-back that they didn’t want their toddler’s in the room hearing what their sibling had done wrong. The team are now exploring other possibilities. The Philadelphia team built a physical mock-up of the Hub in a school gymnasium where they role-played different interactions youth would encounter in the space. The test invited parents and young people who have experienced the justice system to respond to the proposed service. The test highlighted concerns from young people around safety and also helped the team think about what data and metrics they want to collect, e.g. tracking whether people will be accessing services after they leave.
Center for Spatial Justice (a.k.a. Beyond Istanbul)
Center for Spatial Justice (a.k.a Beyond Istanbul) is a cross-disciplinary, independent, demand-responsive urban institute, focused on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. The center provides theoretic context and deep local knowledge on the historical layers and contemporary transformations of Istanbul. The Center works toward spatial justice by 1) creating a physical hub to bring together subject matter experts on urbanization, (2) connecting these experts with local people to design living spaces, (3) developing concrete, scalable models for urbanization practices, and (4) forming discussions for spatial justice both in Turkey and abroad.
The Chinese government is building a social credit system to rate the trustworthiness of 1.4 billion people. If you do something ‘good’, like volunteer at a charity and donate blood, your score goes up. If you do something ‘bad’, like jaywalk, cancel a reservation, or if you are friends with someone with a low rating, your score drops. Carnival 2020 invites participants to simulate the reality of “future credit society”. This project is intended to let the audience experience the credit system through highly immersive experiences.
It is 2053. The Swedish government has just opened its landmark museum FOSSIL with its first exhibition Carbon Ruins. ‘Carbon Ruins’ aims to transport the visitor into a future where transitions to post-fossil society has already happened. By focusing on recognizable objects the exhibition bridges the gap between the daily lives of humans and the abstract impacts of climate change. The choice of the objects and the associated stories are based on climate models and expertise from the Narrating Climate Futures network. The characters and events which construct the story have been generated through participatory workshops with researchers and practitioners in food, transport, steel, energy and plastic.
Car Free Day London
Sadiq Khan, has announced major plans to help Londoners ‘reclaim’ the streets and get out and about enjoying hundreds of free events for London’s biggest Car Free Day celebrations in 2019. Hundreds of activities took place across more than 20km of closed streets in Central London. Eighteen boroughs were working with residents to create local ‘Play Streets’ – safe spaces where children can play and communities get together.
BUSt! Boredom creates an active and playful space for the kids who have no choice but to be at the transit center several times each week. A local design firm, along with students created six installations that would beautify the transit center and make it more playful. Lextran was so impressed with the students’ innovative thinking that they incorporated similar ideas into their own federal grant proposals. Prior to this, the team conducted town hall meetings, interviewed 600 people and tested out pop-up projects, including a Little Free Library, live music and art projects for kids.
Building Safe Spaces For Women And Youth In The Gaza Strip with the help of Minecraft
Gaza is an area deeply impacted by warfare and gender-based violence. Block by Block Workshops represented the first opportunity for local residents to actively participate in public development with the help of digital platforms. The first gathering took place in August 2017, when 30 participants used Minecraft to develop ideas for a community garden in Al-Shoka. The program’s succeeded to renovate three spaces, all designed with women and youth.
Building A Model For Participatory Urban Planning
In 2012, UN-Habitat, along with local partners in Nairobi, initiated a community engagement process to identify public space improvements in this crowded city. Minecraft was tested as a community participation tool. By navigating a three-dimensional world, workshop participants were able to express themselves in new ways and easily visualize and navigate the plans. Participants developed plans for a “model court” and a “model street” to demonstrate how thoughtfully planned streetscapes can transform cities.
Bucaramanga Bicycle Strategy Citizen Engagement
A project for the Metropolitan Area of Bucaramanga to develop a bicycle strategy with a considerable component of engagement in different stages of the process. Consultation with key stakeholders – The objective of the stakeholder consultation in this project was to validate the information gathered on bicycle use in the city of Bucaramanga and its metropolitan area, identify obstacles and challenges in promoting bicycle use in the city, discuss and define the principles, goals, and indicators proposed for the strategy. The methodology of these consultations was participatory, valuing the contribution and perception of the different actors in the definition of an agreed document. The consultation activities were participatory consultation workshops with social actors – two consultation workshops were held with key actors at two different times of the day – a virtual survey with citizens – in order to reach citizens who are not directly involved in the issue, and interviews with experts and key actors.
The Brownsville Partnership convenes community stakeholders to harness their collective power to advance the health, safety, and prosperity of the storied Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville. Over more than a decade, residents, not for profits, government, local business and philanthropy have come together under the Partnership to work collectively on priorities set by Brownsville families. In 2019, the BP began transitioning to become a separate, affiliated not for profit. The Partnership supports the implementation of the Brownsville Plan, a collective strategy for the equitable development of the neighborhood, through the lens of health, housing, and economic mobility.
Brickstarter arises out of a desire to make the process of urban development more legible, and in doing so to enable a more diverse public to not only have a voice, but to actively contribute in shaping the city.
Bottom-up Digital Citizen Participation
The West-German city of Monheim-am-Rhein invited its citizens to submit ideas for city improvement using the Civocracy digital participation platform. The platfom enabled them to follow a pure bottom-up methodology for citizen participation: a direct way for their citizens to give feedback, raise issues and propose new projects for the city. Since end of 2018, 98 propositions have been submitted digitally, 4 of which proved to be particularly popular with the community with implementation now underway.
Bicis del Pueblo
Bicis del Pueblo develops bicycling skills and environmental justice awareness of low-income communities of color. Participants from southeast SF neighborhoods are supported through cooperatively run activities focused on learning, teaching and sharing bicycle education and skills – often using city-owned impounded broken bikes as raw material. BDP encourages low-income families, youth and communities of color to incorporate bicycling in everyday activities that strengthens public health, deepens community resiliency, and reduces toxic pollution.
Bibliolab is a group of innovative projects, activities and services that offer skills to citizens, thanks to the contributions of people and organisations that share their knowledge with the community and enrich its social capital. The main aim is to generate competent communities through the leadership of the library and the organisations that support it, which function as a point where skills are connected and citizens are empowered.
Augmented Virtual Reality
New Rochelle used an online survey to get feedback from citizens about how they want to be involved in the development of the city. The survey asked residents to click on images in response to questions like, “You’ve been asked to help the city build a recreation center–what would you do?” They found that no matter what age, people are drawn to immersive tech to give feedback or learn about their city. Residents also said they liked being approached and asked for their feedback by the city. To test out immersive technology as a tool for engagement, the team planned an event at a local farmers market. The color coded market stalls included virtual reality headsets to imagine new developments, and an augmented reality phone app that re-designed the local park. Although the team wa slightly nervous about turn-out, hundreds of people from young children to elderly came and interacted with the technology.
Atlanta BeltLine Partnership is the nonprofit organization that helps keep the Atlanta BeltLine vision on track by enabling the construction of more parks and trails; engaging the public through tours, health and fitness programs, and special events; and empowering Atlanta BeltLine residents to connect with affordable housing, sustainable economic development, urban revitalization and a healthy lifestyle.
Asphalt Art Initative
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative responds to the growing number of cities around the world embracing art as an effective and relatively low-cost strategy to activate their streets. While cities incorporate art into public spaces in a variety of ways, the focus of this initiative is what we’re calling asphalt art: visual interventions on roadways (intersections and crosswalks), pedestrian spaces (plazas and sidewalks), and vertical infrastructure (utility boxes, traffic barriers and underpasses).
Alternative Camden is a new take on an innovation district, set up to give people the freedom to create a more democratic and inclusive city. Too often people have very little say in the world technology creates, and more importantly, who benefits. Camden and its citizens want to reimagine their own future—an alternative future for the 21st century. The mission is to kick start a series of experiments to explore how we want technology to shape Camden.
Academy for Participation
KARUNA Berlin, a charity working to help at-risk youth, redeveloped the historic Jamlitz railway station into a home for at risk youth, coupled with an academy for civic participation. The facility and program provides safety, stability, life skills and a curiculum to help disadvantaged youth mobilize their strength to articulate, plan and shape their future and participate in societal processes. The centre is supported by various German and international charities and foundations.
4°C Cooler Melbourne
In 2010 Melbourne’s Urban Landscape Team produced the open space and urban forest strategy. Forty million dollars were invested in green space and wetlands to cool the city by 4 degrees Celsius. A four-year citizen’s engagement programme educates and mobilizes citizens as 15,000 trees were planted, 40 streets retrofitted and a storm water harvesting system started.