The go-between wears out a thousand sandals, according to a Japanese proverb. In deepest Holloway last week that fate befell those playing the role of councillor in our game simulating the government's new neighbourhoods policy.
As conference organiser Kevin Harris reports, the game aimed to simulate what will happen in a few years when "double devolution" takes hold, and public service delivery moves down the ladder beyond councils to offer more contracting opportunities to nonprofits, and more opportunities for active citizens.
Drew Mackie and I were relieved when participants readily agreed to move from presentations to interaction, to form groups, and develop descriptions of fictitious (but pretty realistic) neighbourhoods. To spice things up, they threw in plenty of problems and then passed the challenge to another group, while inheriting someone else's neighbourhood. After that, their task was to come up with ways in which different agencies, organisations and community groups would plan and carry out improvements. It was a revised version of our first run last November.
I'm looking forward to the conference on neighbourhood governance and community engagement organised for CDF by Kevin Harris next month. If that sounds bit challenging, but be assured that Drew Mackie and I will aim to liven things up with our Neighbourhood Governance Game. As Kevin reported previously, we had a lot of fun with a dry run last November, when groups invented semi-fictitious neighbourhoods and then planned improvements together .... or not very together.
Neighbourhood forums are one of the methods for local participative democracy promoted by UK central and local government - but what do they mean in practice? We found out by inviting people to invent a place, create a forum, and tell its lifestory - all within an hour.
As Kevin Harris has mentioned on his Neighbourhoods blog, we both ran a little storytelling game this week on the theme of how to set up a local forum. It went really well, proving to me anyway that an hour's conversation among a few interested people can provide as many insights as a manual that probably won't be read much anyway.
The occasion was a Quest Trust networking event, and the reason for the particular game was that UK central and local government is pushing hard their local:vision policies for more effective citizen engagement in neighbourhoods.
One mechanism for this will be establishing neighbourhood forums to discuss local issues and action.
Report at Designing for Civil Society on how we developed and played a governance game, with instructions. There's also a report on a session at the same conference to develop communities of practice - fast.