How to involve citizens in a local area?

Citizen involvement is a key part of the development of social innovations. Citizens are best placed to frame and articulate the nature of the social challenges they experience, so it is important that they are brought into any process of understanding needs.

In this chapter we talk about communities and fablab, tools, method and tips to engage citizens in co-design process.

// Why we talk about community?

Communities are groups of citizens who decide to share their time in real and virtual spaces for different purposes. They are therefore citizens who have decided to develop social ties. When you start a collective participation process the advice is to start presenting the issues, challenges, projects in different communities to engage citizens who are more readily willing to participate. The goal will be to create a new community ready to share experiences, knowledge and skills.

// Why a local community?

Developing a local community is necessary to focus the strategy on deep human connections among participants using an empathetic and narrative approach. And it’s possible with a face to face collaborative action. Engaging citizens in the development of care solutions, in particular, designing and testing solutions in real life settings with target users should help make those solutions more effective. Furthermore, working with citizens, drawing on and developing their assets and capabilities, helps support society’s resilience and capacity to act.

// Why building a local community in a Fablab?

The Fablabs are open innovative places . Who enters into a FabLab is always the right person: you do not need technical requirements, qualifications, specific skills. The communities that develop inside the Fablab are" learning communities". They are founded on the sharing of experiences and knowledge. In a Fablab citizens will produce light but meaningful social ties. Contexts in which light ties assume value generate inclusion and cohesion: sharing of time and thoughts becomes significant . The awareness of acting in this context urges citizens to express themselves more freely ,in trust . Everyone learns something, increasing capability and empowerment.

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