We don’t believe that small groups of people in closed rooms can ever come up with the best answers, because when we operate in isolation we simply don’t have the kind of “whole system” awareness that’s needed for genius to emerge. The best potential we have of transforming the region is therefore to involve more people, and to collaborate across silos.
We also believe that emerging participatory forms of democracy and decision-making have the greatest potential to engage people and empower people in shaping their own futures. The trouble with traditional ‘top down’, command-control forms of leadership is that they fail to engage enough people, and they fail to create the shared sense of purpose and ownership that is essential to genuine progress.
Conversely, people support and believe in the things that they themselves have helped to create. Greater participation therefore leads directly to higher levels of buy in, greater commitment and more action – on better solutions that seek to produce higher levels of well-being for everyone.
People Support What They Create
At 4theRegion we sense and share the frustration people feel at not being involved in important decisions and policy-making that will affect all our lives and the lives of future generations.
We recognise that there are talented, passionate, dedicated and experienced people throughout South West Wales who want to contribute, each in their own ways, to creating a better future for the region.
And yet we see no meaningful way for citizens or businesses to get involved – in regeneration, in community development, in economic development, in City Deal or in any other regional challenge.
We therefore see it as a high priority for the Centre for Regional Engagement to provide a “way in” for the independent sector – a way for ordinary people, small businesses, changemakers and innovators to help shape the future of the region, to have their voices heard, and to actively collaborate on their own ideas and shared priorities.
Our mantra for the region is Connect, Collaborate, Co-create – so while we work to connect the region through the Regional iMap, we are also launching a digital platform to enable effective collaboration across South West Wales.
In Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, in 2010, a new, participatory form of democracy emerged to address the challenges facing the city and shape local government policy.
We are adopting the technology platform developed by Better Reykjavik – an “online, participatory social network” – to enable open, inclusive conversations about the future of our region among citizens, businesses and leaders from across our four counties.
Better Reykjavík is an online participatory social network. It enables citizens to voice, debate and prioritise ideas to improve their city. It does so by creating open discourse between community members and the city council. Betri Reykjavík also gives the voters a direct influence on decision making.
- 10-15 top priorities processed by Reykjavík City Council and voted on every month
- Over 70,000 people have participated out of a population of 120 000 since the site opened
- 20,000 registered users have submitted over 6,800 ideas and 15,000 points for and against
- Over 3,000 ideas have been formally reviewed, and close to a 1,000 accepted since 2011
- Participatory budgeting since 2011 with over 18m EUR allocated directly by citizens
Better Reykjavík launched in 2010, a week before the municipal elections in Reykjavík, becoming a major success that has continued to this day. All parties received their own space on the website to crowdsource ideas for their campaigns. Only the Best Party began using it extensively in their campaign.
The Best Party won 6 of the 15 seats of Reykjavík City Council and Jón Gnarr became the mayor of the capital of Iceland. He called on Reykjavík citizens to use the Better Reykjavík online platform also during the coalition talks that happened after the election.
One of the most successful projects on the Better Reykjavík platform is My Neighbourhood, an annual participatory budgeting project in collaboration with the City of Reykjavík. The project has been ongoing since 2011, with around £3m allocated each year for ideas from citizens on how to improve the various neighbourhoods of Reykjavík.
608 ideas have been approved by citizens in the My Neighbourhood project from 2012-2017. It has resulted in thousands of citizens having had a real influence on their environment. All neighbourhoods of Reykjavík have been visibly improved through the My Neighbourhood project.
In 2017 the City decided to crowdsource ideas to co-create the City’s education policy on Better Reykjavík. This was the first time that an actual policy of any government was crowdsourced.
The Regional Priorities Platform
We see great potential for Regional Priorities to facilitate effective collaboration amongst private sector organisations, individuals and community groups, on projects that are complementary to the big regional projects currently underway.
For example, Homes as Power Stations is one of the City Deal projects, and very little information has been released about how any of us can get involved with it. But for all those businesses, developers, self-builders and communities that are interested in the idea of eco-housing and sustainable development, Regional Priorities will provide a forum for discussion, discovery and collaboration around this theme, giving rise, we hope, to independent initiatives that will undoubtedly be complementary to – and perhaps eventually part of – the headline City Deal project to develop this sector in our region.
We’ve set up a few discussion groups on the Regional Priorities platform, around some of the questions and themes that 4theRegion is already working on. Please do go ahead and contribute your ideas, insight and suggestions to these groups.
- Homes As Power Stations
- Swansea City Centre Conference
- Procuring Transformation
- International Women’s Day 2019
- Llanelli Town Centre
- And anything else you want to add!
Meanwhile, we fully expect this social network to take on a life of its own, with members adding new themes and groups to invite collaboration on areas of shared interest.
Sign in to share your ideas and initiatives, invite participation, and embrace the three key principles of:
- Regional engagement;
- Crowdsourcing wisdom; and
- Genuine collaboration.
Click Here to Visit the Regional Priorities Platform & Have Your Say