Community Conversational

Timeframe: 2016 – 2018

This piece of work, conducted as part of The Trust Map project, involved exploring the ways digital technologies and facilitation games might promote new forms of deliberative democratic engagement in local policymaking. The project involved working with collaborators from the Elders Council, Quality of Life Partnership and Newcastle City Council who were conducting a series of community engagement and consultation exercises around neighbourhood plans. The community engagement workshops were focused on gathering the input of local citizens and resident’s into the shaping of twenty-year plans for their local areas, including exploring community assets and areas for improvement. Our fieldwork early in the engagement processes identified challenges with the facilitation of sessions, ensuring equity in discussions around who is able to share their views, and problems with documenting the rich discussions in ways that they could be used as part of the policymaking process. We developed Community Conversational to respond to these observed issues. Community Conversational is a system comprised of three parts – a card game that facilitates discussion around a map of a local area, a set of physical markers and camera that tracks and captures discussion around the map, and a web-interface that is used after sessions to help analyse and work through captured discussions from the sessions.  We used Community Conversational in a series of further engagement workshops, where it demonstrated value in terms of promoting open and reflective deliberation among attendees, and aided in the documentation and sense-making around complex and rich experiential data related to local places.