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Participation - Best-practice and some easy Mistakes to make

Everything Whoosh does is about getting people involved in city life, debating and understanding ecology, city-planning, gender and politics. We want to bring citizens closer to the decisions that are made about the future of our city. Participation is one of the buzzwords of the last ten years. It means various things, but is usually connected to internet 2.0, with new forms of democracy, with activating and inspiring citizens, and improving the way society works. It is anti-elitist and can add to a sense of belonging and identity.

Participation is fundamentally about a redistribution of power, but also a modern sense that people and their politicians have become separated (by business interests, lobbyists, by press accusations against politicians, and by the tight space in which modern politics operates). In some ways, politics has never been so close to people, who can use Twitter to engage with them and have a dialogue, meet them at debates, but also that politicians are increasingly female, people of colour, gay or trans, and of diverse educational backgrounds.

This is an exciting movement which seeks to provide elegant solutions to reconnect the people and their leaders, by opening up more dialogue between them - and even making ordinary people into decision-making leaders themselves.

But there have been some spectacular failures, when politicians and companies try to open up their processes to the public. Brexit shows the dangers and limitations in asking the public about future strategy, where the question is too subtle and nuanced to be reduced to an in-or-out, yes-or-no binary thing.

Eugene has developed a practical, fresh and fun guide to best-practice. He wants to inspire more people to use this tool, and to look for progressive change which can open up new ways forward. In a humorous and useful presentation, Eugene also explores how not to do it, and some of the most spectacular failures in consultation. Why is everyone talking about this? Why do some projects work, and others not? How do you engage the widest chunk of the population? What are the latest trends, and where will participation go in ten years?

Participation is pop psychology, motivation, sociology, politics, and so much more. And we at Whoosh love transdisciplinary thinking, since that reflects the spirit of our age. You need to be alert, curious and engaged to pick up on the latest moves, celebrate and push them forward. Please join us in this exciting movement.

These words are available as a Vienna city tour, or a colourful and funny presentation from Eugene, for your group seminar, colleagues, conference or university. In English or German.