Combining Involvement with Learning
There are two ways of going about citizen involvement: One is the classic, conventional approach where citizens are considered as study objects and a source of information, the other is the emerging contemporary approach where citizens are viewed as active subjects. At arki_lab we have chosen the latter. We strongly believe that citizen involvement should be a dynamic dialogue, rather than a one-way flow of information from the citizens. There are numerous reasons why we have chosen this approach, but this time around we focus on one of the most crucial ones: Education.
Our experience has shown that while people do care about their physical surrounding, they -in the majority of cases- lack the resources to articulate their views in ways that will carry weight and have an impact. Therefore, our work involves an educational process where people are given the tools to analyse their immediate surroundings, delve into its nuances, complexities and possibilities of change, and finally, express and articulate their opinions and wishes for it.
The City as a Classroom
We use our city as a classroom that has an abundance of learning material to offer. And no! It´s not anything like the traditional classroom. During our citizen involvement processes, we encourage people to break through the walls of habit and look at the city with fresh eyes, begin to consider aspects of their local urban setting and community that they havn’t considered before, and to re-explore their relationship to space, place and the people inhabiting it.
What do we get out of this? The benefit is twofold: Firstly, everyone participating actively in the process, practices to be more critical about their living environment; Secondly, plenty of local knowledge is gathered during the process that could be used to improve our cities in a way that servers each and everyone of us.