Happy New Year from all of us at the Democratic Society. We hope you have a prosperous, successful and democratic 2016.
2015 was a crazy, busy year for us, but most of the plates stayed spinning. Our health participation project, NHS Citizen, finished its design phase with a published design, and started the slow process of building and development that reached a milestone in November’s Citizen Assembly. In Scotland, we worked on creating participation in the Local Tax Commission’s report on a replacement for Council Tax, and the Scottish Government’s Fairer Scotlandprogramme. There were consultation events for Health Education England, Coventry City Council as well as the second European Public Communications unconference in Brussels. We spoke at events from Stornoway to Marrakech, and met democracy activists from around the world at the World Forum in Strasbourg.
On the personal level, Michelle, Millicent, Beth, Matt and Cyndee joined us, and Susie, Charlie and Tilly moved on to new opportunities. We opened a new office in Edinburgh (view of the Castle!) and moved offices in Brighton (view of the sea, if you lean out of the window at a dangerous angle!).
2016 is shaping up to be an intriguing year. NHS Citizen, will continue to develop, while the Holyrood election and a probable EU referendum keep our citizen information and election blogging work going strong. We will be publishing a paper on open policy making in the EU early in the year, and starting work in at least two local authorities to test out different models of local participation. In May, we’ll be hosting DemFest in association with the Raymond Williams Foundation at Gladstone’s beautiful library in Hawarden, near Chester. Most immediately, in mid-January, Michelle will be launching our new presence in Manchester – details of a launch event to follow.
Demsoc will celebrate its 10th birthday on 15 April. Since 2006, a global network of democratic innovators, of which we’re proud to be a small part, have moved the theory and practice of participation forward far more than we would have thought possible then. If I had a prediction for 2016, it would be that this is the year where the little innovations and small-scale innovators start to join up, and work together towards big system changes rather than experimenting round the edge.
To make sure that change is as open and democratic as it should be, one of our New Year resolutions is to talk more about what we do, and stay in better touch with our members and followers. If you’ve been waiting impatiently for news from us, accept our apologies for 2015 and keep an eye out for a newsletter starting later this month. If you haven’t been waiting impatiently for news from us, don’t miss your chance to do so – the signup form is right here.
Thank you for being with us during 2015. If there’s anything we can do to help you or your organisation make democracy work better in 2016, let us know.