I created an interactive vision of the future of everyday democracy, made with Eva Oosterlaken, Nesta, and grassroots democracy practitioners from around the UK. It was so much fun to make and I'm really proud of the outcome.
The map shows an imagined place in the near future and responds to research into barriers and enablers of democratic innovation. The vision is designed to inspire, provoke and prompt ideas by exploring what democracy could look like across different areas of our lives.
We started with interviews, targeting two main groups. One group were democratic ‘experts’ such as academics and people with strong professional experience in local democracy while the second group consisted of our democracy pioneers and our network of active democratic innovators from around the country. This approach was designed to tap into both the theoretical expertise, and the everyday lived experience of people working to build better democracy in the UK.
Next we ran two workshops with the democracy pioneers to explore the future of local democracy. Working in small groups allowed us to explore and unpack some of the barriers to democratic innovation that we identified from our research. Each group then came up with a mission statement, expressing the barrier they would tackle and imagining the impact on local communities if that barrier were overcome. The whole session then focused around these positive goals for the change our pioneers wanted to see.
After the interviews and workshop we had identified more than 200 ideas for place based democratic innovations, and more than 180 goals that we should aim for in a strong democracy.
In an iterative process, we clustered and condensed these insights into 6 areas for future democratic innovation that we think are actionable and inspiring. By creatively combining ideas, places and goals we also imagined 33 everyday democratic interactions that are future looking, yet inspired by the work of our amazing democracy pioneers.
Finally we had to communicate these visions in a way that makes people want to stand up, go out their front door and start doing democracy. We chose a real mix of innovations so that whoever you are - whether you're a town councillor or a school child - you can find one at a scale you could work on today.
Eva’s illustration style beautifully brings that ideal to life with a fluid style that strips the formality out of democracy, abstracting people and places so anyone can imagine themself running these innovations in their own local area.
To explore the map visit: