Workshops as a participatory method

One of the most essential goals of the HEAT project has been trying out different participatory methods. One very well-known measure of participatory planning is organizing a workshop. During the project all partners have organized a variety of workshops for citizens, officials of the municipalities and for other stakeholders. Workshops can be held with a larger group or just a few people, depending on the goals. Nowadays the digital tools are a good addition for enhancing participation not online online but also in live workshops. You can find more information about potential digital tools here.

When organizing a workshop it is important to think carefully, what kind of input is wanted from the participants. Participants give their valuable time to participate in the workshop so it is the organizers’ duty to make their time worthwhile. So remember to

  • Define objective
  • Define the audience and
  • Prioritize the goals of the workshop

Also remember not to make the schedule too tight. There should be enough time for conversations, new ideas and “mind flow”. That is, after all, the main purpose of a workshop.

Examples of workshops the HEAT partners have organised within the project:

  • Tartu held a workshop to get important input into planning the digital idea gathering campaign. Participants were NGO’s, cycling activists and officials.
  • Valonia organized a large workshop together with the Regional Council of Southwest Finland to get input for the vision of the future traffic system plan of Southwest Finland. Participants were officials, politicians, NGO’s, companies
  • Cykelfrämjandet organized a workshop focused on urban planning and they wanted to collect ideas for Cykelstaden Söderort. Participants were inhabitants of the area they were ideating about.