ChangeCampTO: Designing a Civic Engagement Toolkit Feb16

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ChangeCampTO: Designing a Civic Engagement Toolkit

ChangeCamp is an event format, an open community and a set of tools and ideas designed to give citizens and governments the ability to work collaboratively in new ways to make change and to better address real-world challenges in our communities.
changecamp.ca

This ChangeCampTO event represented a really unique opportunity that unfolded over the course of three very different workshops. The anchor event was a three hour session with 200 people from all different backgrounds and contexts within the Toronto community (and beyond) to generate ideas for the kinds of processes, tools and methods that might be in a toolkit we are calling a “Change Kit” also known as “ChangeCamp-in-a-Box”.

Part 1: Collaborative Event Design

The collaborative process began with a collaborative design session with a wicked smart group of facilitators and design thinkers including, Mark KuznickiErika BaileyDaniel RoseMark RehejaGreg JudelmanPeter Jones and members of the Design with Dialogue community. Working together the group worked through a series of ideas and options for how the event could unfold. Over the course of the evening many ideas were hatched and many iterations were worked through until we landed largely on the format that we delivered in Part 2, which the exception of some tweaks here and there as we got familiar with the space we’d be working in and a night of sleeping on the ideas.

Part 2: The Main Event

 
 

Photos via Mark Kuznicki/ChangeCamp @ Flickr

Working with Mark Kuznicki, ChangeCamp instigator and the host for the evening, I took on the role of facilitating the attendees through our exercises for the evening. What was interesting about the format was that we early on realized that we didn’t have the time to really refine & filter the ideas generated at the session during that night. We had roughly 200 attendees spread across over 35 tables in a large conference hall. As a result we focused a lot of energy on capture, we wanted to ensure the discussion and outputs would be captured in a manner that we could go back and understand the group’s thinking when we returned to the raw ideas at a later date to process them further (see Part 3).

At a high-level the process worked the tables through about an hour of brainstorming and discussion which was captured through post-it’s and by a live blogger at each table. At the end of the time frame one person remained at the table as a representative while everyone else rotated to a different table. The person who stayed behind then shared the discussion they’d had with their group and answered questions about the discussion.  We also captured each of the report outs on a flip camera and at the end of the session each group was asked to pack up all their post-it’s and notes into numbered envelopes so we could easily identify which groups had generated which ideas.

We closed out the night with a group circle (yes, all two hundred people single file in a circle) and had a reflective discussion with the group – as we ended the night we asked everyone to pull their name badge out from the holder and unfold it, upon which they discovered a “ballot” on the inside that looked like this:

We wanted to reinforce the idea of civic engagement in the political process so we had the participants cast their ballot to indicate their interest in continuing along the journey and telling ChangeCamp what they might have to offer. Because of the design by using the name tag as the ballot we also ensured that, unlike a normal election, each ballot also had the ‘voters’ name on it, so ChangeCamp could easily consolidate the information & reach out to the interested parties.

The end result was 165 of 192 participants casting a ballot indicating Yes, Yes but or maybe.

The ChangeCamp blog has a great write-up of the session, as well as all of the outputs & process we followed that is worth checking out if you want to learn more.

Part 3: Synthesis

With 35 tables of outputs to go through, a group of about 15 of us reconvened a couple of weeks later and began to process each tables outputs. At first we divided up into groups and each took a stack of table outputs and then unpacked their outputs and began to synthesize and consolidate their ideas. When we needed clarification we consulted their corresponding live blog and also their output recording for additional context.

After a few hours the teams all came together where we further clustered and consolidated all of the teams materials together – what we ended up with was an appropriately 2″ stack of unique ideas and themes that came from all of the tables which were then turned over to the ChangeCamp crew to continue their process of developing the tool sets and other resources.