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A deliberative system in Scotland?

oliverescobar:

Thanks to Prof. John Parkinson for two interesting days of conversations about deliberative democracy in Scotland. Here I’m re-blogging John’s initial thoughts posted originally in his blog.

Originally posted on John R Parkinson:

imageThe last two days I’ve been in Edinburgh talking with academic colleagues, civil servants, activists and think tankers, journalists and interested others about deliberative systems. I’ve been interested in applying deliberative systems thinking to get a handle on the quality and extent of public debate in the run-up to, and beyond, last year’s Scottish independence referendum.

I stress the “talking with” part. It’s been a remarkable two days because I’ve been listening and learning as much as talking and debating. This is because Scotland is a hot-bed of development for deliberative and participatory democracy following the “indyref”.

The events — a public lecture followed by small group discussions and questions, and a smaller workshop on the ideals for large-scale deliberation — were organised and hosted by the Academy of Government at Edinburgh University, especially the inextinguishable Oliver Escobar. My sincere thanks to him and all the team, and to all…

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A People’s Parliament: Request for assistance

Originally posted on pdd:

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 15.01.18The Sortition Foundation (http://www.sortitionfoundation.org/) is in the initial phases of planning a People’s Parliament in the UK and is seeking help to bring the concept to fruition.
The People’s Parliament would bring a representative sample of 100 people from across the UK to deliberate on the national budget, and create their own People’s Budget to submit to Parliament.
The Sortition Foundation would like to create a steering committee made up of academics, charities and other NGOs with helpful ideas, expertise and networks. If you are interested, please contact Brett Hennig at bsh@sortitionfoundation.org.

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Invitation to participation practitioners in Scotland – book your place for Democratic Sector Day

Invitation to participate in Democratic Sector Day Scotland

10am-4.30pm, 5th March 2015

The South Hall at Pollock Halls

18 Holyrood Park Road, Edinburgh EH16 5AY, Scotland, UK

BOOK NOW: https://democraticsectorday.eventbrite.co.uk

wws

What Works Scotland is delighted to invite you to Democratic Sector Day –an encounter between people working in the public participation sector in Scotland.

Who can participate?

Anyone working in the Democratic Sector in Scotland. That is, organisations, networks and practitioners whose job is to foster and/or enable public participation in policy and decision making, and community engagement in public service design and delivery. This may include practitioners from the public, third and private sector.

What is the purpose of the event?

DSD is a day for participation practitioners to share ideas, projects and ambitions, and hopefully develop a better understanding of this ‘community of practice’ in Scotland. The objectives are:

  1. Improve our understanding of the Democratic Sector in Scotland: Who is doing what and how?
  2. Discover opportunities for collaboration regarding research and practice

What will happen at the event?

The event will be hands-on and interactive:

  • In the morning… there are structured table conversations to generate key themes for the rest of the day.
  • In the afternoon… participants decide what issues matter most to them and work in groups, before reporting back in a closing plenary session.

The design of the event borrows elements from formats such as Open Space, Unconference and Dialogue Circles in order to be as interactive and productive as possible.

Who funds the event?

What Works Scotland http://whatworksscotland.ac.uk and Edinburgh University’s Academy of Government http://www.aog.ed.ac.uk.

Attendance is free, please book here:

https://democraticsectorday.eventbrite.co.uk

Contact

About the organisation of the event: Simon Kersaw Simon.Kershaw@ed.ac.uk

About the contents of the event: Oliver Escobar oliver.escobar@ed.ac.uk

Partners collaborating in planning DSD

Angus Hardie (Scottish Community Alliance), Fiona Savage (FS Associates), Juliet Swann and Willie Sullivan (Electoral Reform Society Scotland), Tim Hughes and Sarah Allan (Involve), Alistair Stoddart (Democratic Society Scotland), Mark Langdon (CLD Standards Council), Susan Pettie (So Say Scotland), Fiona Garven (Scottish Community Development Centre), George Lamb (Disability History Scotland), Irene McAra-McWilliam (Glasgow School of Art), Ian Turner, Doreen Grove, Kathleen Glazik and Katy Betchley (Scottish Government), Bronagh Gallagher (West and Central Voluntary Sector Network + Art of Hosting), Sarah Drummond (Snook).

What Works Scotland is hosting this because…

WWS is a 3-year project with the remit of Using evidence to transform public services for all of Scotland’s communities to flourish. Our work is guided by the key principles from the Christie Commission, and a key area is public participation and community engagement. Within this broad area we are planning various collaborative research projects and Knowledge Exchange events. Democratic Sector Day falls within the latter. You can see more info about WWS here: http://whatworksscotland.ac.uk

Beyond cynicism and complacency – Participatory Budgeting in Scotland

Source: Scottish Community Development Centre

‘Advancing Participatory Budgeting in Scotland: A learning event’ (Glasgow, October 2014) Source: SCDC

Participatory Budgeting is a process that enables citizens to deliberate on priorities and decide on the allocation of public money. It started in 1989 in Porto Alegre (Brazil) and has now spread to over 1,500 localities around the globe. One of the reasons it has become one of the most popular democratic innovations of the last decade is due to the substantial impact of the process in tackling inequalities, solving local problems and increasing civic engagement in some Brazilian cities. Its impact in other countries, however, has been often less impressive. There are clear signs that PB is gaining momentum in Scotland:

  • Various localities and organisations have conducted PB projects in the last few years, and an increasing number are currently planning to start new processes.
  • There is a Scottish Government PB Working Group in place since the last spring considering a range of issues including capacity building, alternative PB models and a Scottish approach to PB. The Group includes Fiona Garven (Scottish Community Development Centre), Angus Hardie (Scottish Community Alliance), Felix Spittal (Scottish Council of the Voluntary Sector), Martin Jhonstone (Faith in Communities), myself from Edinburgh University’s Academy of Government, and officials from the Community Empowerment Unit.
  • There have been some introductory training programs completed across the country –e.g. by PB Partners in numerous Local Authorities and by myself with three Area Partnerships in Glasgow. There is also a new set of advanced training packages designed by PB Partners, and supported by the PB Working Group, to be rolled out across the country to support those Local Authorities planning to develop PB processes. This will be co-funded by the Scottish Government and the Local Authorities involved.
  • Minister Marco Biagi (Local Government) and Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil (Social Justice) have shown interest in PB –i.e. requesting evidence from academics and analysts, and discussing PB with the Working Group. Marco Biagi is also building on the work that Derek Mackay started setting up the PB Working Group and support for PB training.
  • There have been a series of seminars and sessions on PB, including the recent ‘Advancing PB Learning Event’ summarised in this report. There are also plans for a high profile national conference in 2015.
  • The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has endorsed the findings from the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy, which includes PB amongst its recommendations to develop new forms of public engagement (see their recent landmark report ‘Effective democracy: Reconnecting with communities‘). Similar points have been made by civic organisations like the Electoral Reform Society Scotland as part of their Demo Max process, or the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations in their response to the consultation on the Community Empowerment Bill.
  • What Works Scotland, a three-year research and knowledge exchange program funded by ESRC and the Scottish Government, has included PB in its plans for research into community engagement in Scotland. I will be leading on this research, starting with a review of evidence about PB processes in Scotland to be published before the summer. WWS will therefore contribute to develop the evidence base for future policy developments on PB.

In post-referendum Scotland, it is becoming commonplace to talk about the aspirations of a growing number of citizens who demand new ways of participating in politics and policy making. PB is increasingly seen as an important part of the new ‘democratic renewal’ agenda in Scotland. Interestingly, PB is not only being supported by the national government of the Scottish National Party, but also at local level by Labour administrations such as Glasgow City Council (where the figure £1.4 million has been mentioned in relation to ‘community budgeting’ via Area Partnerships). In other words, at least for now, PB has not become a political football, and there may be an opportunity for cross-party support of a long term PB strategy for the country.

However, this apparent momentum should not be cause for uncritical optimism by participatory democrats. There are different ways of approaching PB, and not all are equally effective in securing civic empowerment, tackling inequalities and solving problems. PB, like citizen participation more broadly, can be put to undesirable uses and be hijacked by managerial rather than democratic agendas. For example, I understand those who find it suspicious that PB is gaining momentum at a time of increasing cuts to public services. However, a simplistic analysis underestimates the impact of the independence referendum in opening up space for a more participatory democracy. Perhaps it is time to navigate and expand that narrow patch of hopeful land left between cynicism and complacency, and create a Scottish approach to PB that works for most and makes a difference.

It’s been emotional….. do public servants have enough time and space to reflect?

oliverescobar:

Another excellent research blog post from the 21st Century Public Servant team.

Originally posted on 21st Century Public Servant:

21CPS_Relational-reflectiveThe future shape of public service that we have described throughout our research is one where structures are fragmenting, citizens demand authentic interactions, careers require much greater self-management, commerciality and publicness must be reconciled and expectations of leadership are dispersed across the organisation. To cope with this, the workforce will need time and space for public servants to reflect. However, many of our 21st public servant research interviewees said that more value is placed on activity rather than reflection and this leads to risk aversion and lack of innovation: ‘We put huge amount of store in activity and need to get better at valuing reflection, anticipating. The risk is if we focus on here and now we may not be able to transform and innovate. How do you slow it all down?’

Another said: You need spaces where you take yourself apart and sort it out with the fact…

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Recap on Deliberative Systems workshop at CSD, Nov 2014

Originally posted on pdd:

Thanks very much to Graham Smith for organising and hosting last week’s workshop on Deliberative Systems at CSD in Westminster (though unfortunately Graham was laid low with a bug and could not be there himself!) There was a very good turnout and lots of interesting debate and discussion. What follows below is an attempt to briefly summarize the highlights. The essence of the workshop was to critically engage with the systemic turn in deliberative democracy. The speakers (and, for the most part, the audience) were all largely sympathetic to the systems idea but each focused on a particular problem or concern that this turn raises for deliberative democratic theory and research (see abstracts at Deliberative systems presentations).*

Perhaps the most sceptical account was William Smith’s—one that aligns in this sense with Graham Smith and David Owen’s account (see here) that unfortunately couldn’t be delivered. For (William) Smith, the…

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