Engaging in Dialogue

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Getting the community involved

Cities around the world are faced with various social and economic issues, and many of them choose a development platform around urban commons to address these issues. Each urban commons in a given area may have a different objective, whether it is to preserve a space, empower a community, or change a space so that it fits the needs and personalities of the community. In fact, Urban Commons projects become successful when the involved stakeholders are able to voice their concerns to each other with a given area. In a space where such concerns can be heard, people can also agree on what is the right tactic for governance and decision-making within that urban commons. That said, there is a profound necessity to involve the people and to make sure that the involved organizations are represented by the inhabitants around these urban commons. Each organization has its role to play in the process of communication and in the development for a charter. Some organizations will hold the responsibility of hosting panels or discussion meetings to get ideas heard for the development of the charter, some may be involved in communicating to the municipality, and others will provide expert feedback and suggestions to ensure that the charter is clear, usable, and enforceable. This manifesto will include other specific roles that organizations can play in this process.

Key concepts (of actions) :

Getting the community involved

In order to start a constructive dialogue for creation, recognition, or preservation of a commons space, you need to have an active participating body with certain roles as a basis for the process. A project that deals with changing, modifying, and updating the urban fabric must include the input of the people that live in and around that project in order for it to be successful. Projects become successful people are able to voice their concerns with a given area. But it is not just concerns that various involved organizations and municipalities should hear, it is also what people think is the best tactic to change. People will disagree on this, but hearing their side will help assess which is the best tactic to change or place an urban commons in a given area. In fact, certain organizations can have the responsibility to communicate with these people to see how they understand the area and what they want changed. Certain ways to approach this are:

Questionnaire Development and Interview Participation - questions should be organized based on finding the identity of a neighborhood, highlighting what general qualities and problems exist, and explaining what a path forward would look like in neighborhood improvement.

Townhall meetings - (perhaps in the urban commons itself) where organizations communicate with residents to set up a townhall gathering as a place to explain the problem for each stakeholder, and various solutions proposed by each stakeholder. And then a panel where people can say things about whats right and whats wrong (both organizations and participants can facilitate this, and make it organized through social media or some sign up sheet platform.

Leadership Facilitation - Everyone should give opinions on what a leader should look like in facilitating these meetings. That will make it easier to decide on the leaders. The persons facilitating this should be the people that are most interested and adamant about being involved in the chartering process of an urban commons

Social Media facilitation - people see highlighted plans and they can add comments of approval/disapproval that would help mediators further understand what would be best for the neighborhood

Finding the Stakeholders/Making decisions that benefit the grand pool of stakeholders, particularly the people

The stakeholders include everyone interested in being part of the planning of an urban commons. One has to find interested participants to give a project some friction. Neighborhood locals can be very vehement about participating in the urban common development, and these people will have a myriad of ideas to share and put forth in the planning. In order to find these people, signs can be posted around recreational centers that explain what is going on and how people can get involved. The use of social media will also attract people into becoming participants. The organization around meeting these participants must be fair (so everyone must be heard), and people should be able to share some ideas with one another. Once the participants have been received, there can be discussion about the kind of decisions that need to be taken, and how each decision process will affect an urban space. It is particularly hard to move forward on any decisions when many people have completely different opinions on what is right for the space. That is why the dialogue has to be set in an organized matter, meaning that the forum will have a certain schedule that will allow each individual group to present their case. There should also be a moderator who can identify similarities of what people say (problems, specific objects that they relate to and note them down.

Collective Action - the process in which individuals who are pursuing collective interests by gaining any form of value from them within a group, and working collectively with other individuals to agree upon decisions that are harder to make in a group (Gillbert 2006)

Roles of Responsibility - Each stakeholder must have a responsibility that helps nurture the charter of the urban commons. More organization means the the process of the charter can be more clearly defined, more efficient, and it will incentivize people to participate and adhere to their responsiblities, which will benefit the public around an urban commons.

Democratic approach to decision making - Where active participants vote on 'common' decision in an environment where each vote is counted as same value. This democratic approach helps active participants agree upon a decision that will effect everyone active in an urban commons.


Dialogue between and within the people

Once it is decided who will participate as a resident and as an organization, a dialogue can take place where people get their needs heard, and organizations document them so that they are ready to present it to people involved in the development of the urban commons. It is important for people to set up networks so that there could be as much reach as possible. The more people participate, the more value this commons could potentially hold. The communication has to be fluid and organized, but also getting as many voices heard as possible.

Group Creation, Division of Responsibility - Making groups that have succinct responsibilities, taking care of specific problems, holding on certain forms of communication

Community conversation (this is similar to the townhall meeting approach)

Network establishment - people should be trained to reach out to as many people as possible when recruiting for urban commons involved. That network must be officialized, established, documented, and expandable. People meeting people should give out recommendations on who to talk to, if a problem is heard from two different people and from two different location within that neighborhood, they should be able to meet, relate, and start a sub-movement within community conversation.

Communication/Dialogue with a capable government, perhaps a municipality

There must be a certain level of organization in order to approach a government about future development plans in a neighborhood. Governments are often subject to regulatory slippage when managing shared green spaces in a city, so communities can assume the role setting up rules and surveillance mechanisms to protect and preserve an urban commons. Governments in return should officially recognize these commons as independent and functioning institutions in order to protect and enrich the commons. Government back-up will protect the commons from become a parcel of private property and will become prioritized to received government protection and funding that is key for the permancy of urban green commons. In other words, governments might create and enforce de jure rights for commoners in urban green commons, and recognize and support de facto rights between and within commoners who wish to create, manage, and maintain within the urban commons site. De Jure rights will provide adequate and reliable protection, while de facto rights, in conjunction of de Jure rights, will create collective action and several guidelines for commoners to use and mantain the urban commons.

Implementing De Jure Rights - Enforcements by governments in the form of formal and legal instrumentalities explicitly granting rights to specific individual resource users. This implies that any conflicts within property rights can be settled in a judicial setting.

Supporting De Facto Rights - Informal institutional set of arrangements determining resource use organized or enforced by individual users who are not officially recognized by government bodies