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Community involvement

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News and comment


“Town Halls for Social Change” by @indy_johar, April 4 [1]

The rise of the citizen expert. How can data-rich technology drive better citizen engagement and make government more effective? February 4 [2]


Polisdigitocracy: Digital Technology, Citizen Engagement and Climate Action – A New C40-Arup Report, November 18 [3]

A Charter for Democracy, September 22 [4]

Integrating activism into governance institutions, September 15 [5]


Author Don Tapscott on the growing influence of public participation, 4 October [6]

"At its broadest, non-discriminatory access to data means that any person can access the data at any time without having to identify him/herself or provide any justification for doing so." Sunlight Foundation, August 11 [7]

Data alone is not sufficient for problem-solving, but an involved community informed with data just might be, John Tolva, July 2010 [8]

Open Philanthropy: A Modest Manifesto, Lucy Bernholz, 3/15/2010 [9]

Crisis in policymaking for people and planet demands new approach to policymaking that gives citizens a greater say in decisions that affect them, 27/01/2010 [10]


Developing the Open City, 15 October 2009 [11]

How long is your city's tail? by John Geraci, October 7 [12]

The Three Laws of Open Government Data, 30 September 2009 [13]


Not Just Peak Oil, But “Peak Hierarchy,” Too? December 4 [14]

"The best mechanism to confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but conscious, motivated, and well organized human beings endowed with an identity of their own." Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, November 28, 2008

"In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always promoted the defense of Mother Earth." Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, November 28, 2008

"...his (Obama's) only real hope in dealing with the tremendous challenges the country (world) faces will be to harness the collective ingenuity of citizens on a massive scale. In other words, he must enlist a level of participation in generating and acting on innovative solutions that has no obvious parallel in history." Anthony D. Williams [15]

A Wiki for the Planet: Clay Shirky on Open Source Environmentalism [16]

"We're going to look at every place that a reader or a listener or a viewer or a user has been locked out, has been served up passive or a fixed or a canned experience, and ask ourselves, "If we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus and deploy it here, could we make a good thing happen?" And I'm betting the answer is yes." [17]


Wikis And Blogs As Instruments Of Citizen Participation, May 11 [18]


The co-production of public services has been defined in a variety of ways - e.g. "Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours" (new economics foundation) or "the public sector and citizens making better use of each other's assets and resources to achieve better outcomes and improved efficiency" (Governance International).

Experiments on co-production on public services have been launched in many countries, from Denmark to Malaysia, the UK and the USA. W

Participatory budgeting

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. Participatory budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent. When PB is taken seriously and is based on mutual trust local governments and citizen can benefit equally. In some cases PB even raised people's willingness to pay taxes.

Participatory budgeting generally involves several basic steps: 1) Community members identify spending priorities and select budget delegates 2) Budget delegates develop specific spending proposals, with help from experts 3) Community members vote on which proposals to fund 4) The city or institution implements the top proposals

A comprehensive case study of eight municipalities in Brazil analyzing the successes and failures of participatory budgeting has suggested that it often results in more equitable public spending, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning. W

Participatory democracy

Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. In 2011, considerable grassroots interest in participatory democracy was generated by the Occupy movement. W

Participatory justice

Participatory justice is the use of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, conciliation, and arbitration, in criminal justice systems, instead of, or before, going to court. It is sometimes called "community dispute resolution". W

Participatory planning

Participatory planning is an urban planning paradigm that emphasizes involving the entire community in the strategic and management processes of urban planning; or, community-level planning processes, urban or rural. It is often considered as part of community development. Participatory planning aims to harmonize views among all of its participants as well as prevent conflict between opposing parties. In addition, marginalized groups have an opportunity to participate in the planning process. W


  1. Medium
  2. Medium
  3. voices.nationalgeographic.com
  4. Commons Transition
  5. Commons Transition
  6. guardian.co.uk, 4 October 2010
  7. sunlightfoundation.com, August 11, 2010
  8. ascentstage.com, July 2010
  9. philanthropy 2173 3/15/2010
  10. International Institute for Environment and Development, 27/01/2010, link not found, July 2015
  11. planetizen, 15 October 2009
  12. O'Reilly Radar, October 7, 2009
  13. David Eaves
  14. onthecommons.org, December 4, link not found, July 2015
  15. wikinomics, November 7 2008
  16. wired.com, August 20, 2008, link not found, July 2015
  17. Clay Shirky at a Web 2.0 conference, April 23, 2008. link not found, July 2015
  18. masternewmedia.org

Community involvement is used here as a term similar to Participatory democracy W, and more recent terms such as Open source governance W.

What communities can do

Overview, see right hand column for more


Why it matters

Community involvement is about people and communities being able to play a full part in decision-making, for example local decision-making, and so influence the decisions which affect their lives. It is also about community empowerment, for example through access to appropriate information and adivce.

Proper community involvement is not tokenistic. Instead it is on-going, valued, meaningful, provides extensive opportunity and is genuinely and extensively influential.

Proper community involvement is not about allowing mere comment on decisions that have already largely been taken. Instead it begins at the design stage, the very beginning of any project or programme.

Proper community involvement does not include measures of success being foisted upon the community, or worse still simply being ignored. Instead it gives a primary role to the community in judging how successful a project or programme has been.

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

The Rio Declaration of 1992 enshrines public participation in its 27 principles. Principle 10 states that "environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level”. The Rio Declaration continues, drawing a close link between access to information and public participation:

"At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided."



  • Civic Commons Wiki, an effort to provide a permanent, sustainable organization to assist public agencies in the adoption of open systems and collaborative technologies, and to coordinate the co-creation of these technologies among agencies to ensure interoperability and shareability. Civic Commons will provide infrastructure, knowledge, and toolsets to government entities, and encourage the development of shared "civic software" and protocols, and supply optional technical infrastructure (such as data and project hosting) as needed.
  • Imagine Chicago, Imagine projects and networks in th UK, Europe and Australia have been modelled on Imagine Chicago.
  • Benchmark study data The state of open data from different perspectives, including that of the public / citizens
  • Introducing the Cycle of Transparency, Sunlight Foundation Blog, 03/10/10
  • Resources from Imagine Chicago
  • Making is Connecting - site about Making is Connecting project, with extracts, video, etc. W
  • Regulation on collaboration between citizens and and the City for the care and regeneration of urban commons, comune.bologna.it
  • Who Ya Gonna Call? Deliberative Democracy Resources

Apps for sustainability

Promise Tracker, Data collection for civic action. After an election, how can citizens hold elected leaders accountable for promises they made during the campaign season? We believe that informed communities, equipped with data, are the best positioned to assess the performance of their representatives and advocate for change on a local level. Promise Tracker explores how citizen monitoring can extend civic engagement between election cycles.

Citizens data initiative

Based on Porto Alegre more than 140 (about 2.5%) of the 5,571 municipalities in Brazil have adopted participatory budgeting.

Since its emergence in Porto Alegre, participatory budgeting has spread to hundreds of Latin American cities, and dozens of cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. More than 1500 municipalities are estimated to have initiated participatory budgeting. W


Technology for transparency network


There resides in all populations a "mass of sense lying in a dormant state - which good government should quietly harness." Tom Paine [1]


More video: Tim Berners-Lee on the next Web, video on TED.com - Getting back to Government Is Us, youtube, 2010 - Dan Mcquillan at mypublicservices, youtube, 2009

See also

  • local information can be found, or shared, via our many location pages

Interwiki links

Wikipedia: Participatory democracy, Open-source governance, .green, Participatory budgeting, Participatory planning, Participatory justice, Public participation, Coproduction (public services)


External links

  • Civicus, global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, the organisation today has members in more than 145 countries, with its headquarters in Johannesburg and offices in London, Geneva and New York. W

  • Democracies Online, builds online public space in the heart of real democracy and community. "Our mission is to harness the power of online tools to support participation in public life, strengthen communities, and build democracy."
  • Open311, collaborative model and open standard for civic issue tracking
  • OpeningParliament.org, forum intended to help connect the world's civic organizations engaged in monitoring, supporting and opening up their countries' parliaments and legislative institutions.
  • Open Government Initiative
  • Green Drinks international Organic, self-organising network of people who meet up monthly for a beer at informal sessions known as Green Drinks.
  • Meetup Free service that organizes local gatherings about anything, anywhere. Topic groups include 'New Urbanism and Sustainable Development'



This page includes Creative Commons Licensed content from the Sustainable community action wiki on Wikia.
The list of authors can be seen in the history, link via drop down menu at top left of page.

  1. Guardian review of Hilary Wainwright’s book Reclaim the State: Adventures in Popular Democracy, July 2003