Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Participation is the key to Scotland's future

THINKING Together: Co-Creating Peace is underway at the Quaker Meeting House in central Edinburgh, as part of Just Festival and the Quaker festival lecture series.

More a workshop and discussion than a presentation, the emphasis is on how dialogue, creativity, empowerment, participation and networking can help to generate the democratic innovation needed for developing Scotland's future in a positive way.

Obviously the upcoming independence referendum has focussed attention on where the country is going, but the idea of this evening is not to get into a 'yes' versus 'no' debate, but to see how people in Scotland can find new ways of working together whatever the outcome of 2014.

Inspired by a process used in Iceland, and supported by a bevy of collaborating partners and volunteers, So Say Scotland hosted their first Citizens' Assembly earlier this year.

 'Thinking Together' was and is a people's process, drawing on an enabled gathering of 76 people at the galvanising event, who were encouraged to "exercise their democratic muscle".

Issues of what we mean by and want from welfare, environment, economy, politics and more came to the fore in the conversations - starting with the sharing of values.

"There is an energy that comes from coming together",  one participant said. The process was designed to ensure that all voices were heard, with an opportunity for people to gather and synthesise ideas themselves, rather than have it done for them or to them.

So say Scotland says: "Participative and deliberative democracy is a complement to and an evolution of representative democracy: anywhere a citizen gets closer to the decision making process and does that in collaboration with others.

"Every process and tool has different elements of participation and deliberation, understanding this is also essential to effective use of the process and tools. Deliberation can be defined as ‘an exchange of reasons aimed at transforming the preference of others’.

This means things like: Open Space, World CafĂ©, Wisdom Councils, Referendums, Cooperatives/Employee Ownership, Community Land Buy Out, Citizen Assemblies/Juries/Panels & Deliberative Polling, Participatory Budgeting, Pupils Councils, DEMOCS, and Co‐production.

More information here.

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