There are big, conceptual and innovative projects that have never been done before and then there are projects which are more intimate, very specific, and hands-on. And we love both!
In Pilsen – yes, the city where they invented the pilsner beer! – we were tasked to design and implement a consultation process with the public on the future of local riverbanks. The city of Pilsen has long been trying to develop the potential of its river banks and strengthen the city’s relationship with the river. The city management is aware that the river represents an important part of the area and therefore a process related to it requires a multidisciplinary approach and an active involvement of all stakeholders.
Our task was to involve the public in the process – ordinary citizens of Pilsen, who use the waterfront for recreation or for walking and cycling. And because we believe in the so-called spirit of the place, we held a personal meeting with the citizens at a temporary site right on the Mže waterfront. We invited participants to share their suggestions and opinions in an interactive way and to comment on how they imagine the future of the place.
The conceptual plan was done by architects from Ateliér k světu who presented the outcome on the spot. At the same time, they were ready to listen to citizens and answer their questions during a short walk along the riverbank that concluded the meeting.
It was important to capture citizens’ suggestions and comments throughout the process, as they will be incorporated directly into a detailed study that clearly defines the future shape of the riverbanks. People could also leave their feedback and make suggestions through an online questionnaire, which was filled in by over 150 respondents.
The city thus gives its citizens an opportunity to actively participate in decision-making processes and in shaping the future of Pilsen. The support of civic activism is an integral part of a democratic society and we are glad that the Department of Conception and Development of the City of Pilsen that oversaw the project, perceives engagement of citizens as the basis of open governance.
Lessons learned? Again, it was proven that even projects of such a small scale need to be treated as a well-thought-through process! Without a detailed preparation, script, and plan on “what happens next” there is no success. Having people to show up — that’s not enough!
If you want to learn more about participation, or you have a project and want to consult, reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org