Many, many evenings of voluntary work went public last night with a site to complement Birmingham’s Big City Plan consultation.
www.bigcitytalk.org has been built by Jon Bounds who’s worked patiently with other Birmingham bloggers Julia Gilbert, Nicky Getgood, Michael Grimes and myself to translate council speak into clearer speak. Stef Lewandowski has also been among a number of people who’ve supported and encouraged this, not least through conversations with the council. I don’t think it’s flawless – so please feel free to comment about the site, but more importantly please use it to comment about the big city plan before February 6th.
We want to help move beyond the traditional consultation approach of citizens or organisations making comments to government and for government. Instead we are keen to create an online place which will encourage a more public conversation about how we will shape the city centre over the next 20 years.
Fortunately it has been met with some enthusiasm from other people.
Midge describes it as “something that Joe Public could actually get involved with AND comment on”. Shona has already used it to have her say on the options for Digbeth. Mark Steadman wants people to use the site – pronto (consultation on this phase of the plan ends on February 6th), one Simon is chuffed to see the it built on free and open source software WordPress whilst another Simon is impatient to see more people commenting.
BiNS reminds us of one fundamental truth about planning for our city: “You know how big and complex Birmingham is, well it is. Very.” Digital Birmingham reflect on this as “another example of how far ahead Birmingham is in its use of social media. Digital technologies coupled with a highly-motivated group of citizens makes for a very powerful combination.” Something I think is very true!
For me Dave Briggs gets to one nub here (I declare a situation can be double nubbed)when he asks two questions:
Readers working within local government: how could you make the most of the civic energy in your area, to work with residents to create something really worthwhile?
Everyone else: What’s going on in your local area that you could take a bit of time out to help out with, or improve?
So I’d like to add that extra nub with a third question aimed at publicly funded media like the BBC: Should you be doing this sort of stuff? If so how will you need to change your rules of engagement?