Ten years ago, I started Demsoc’s first project. The desk where I worked was in the spare room of my house in Hanover, Brighton.
Demsoc had been around for a while before 2010 – it started as a broad concept in about 2003, then with the help of four friends became an organisation in 2006. Some of you might even remember our 10th anniversary party in 2016. But 1 February 2010 was when I stepped away from a job at Brighton & Hove City Council and started working for Demsoc on proper projects.
Since then, we’ve worked on over 150 projects, and grown from the desk in my spare room to a team of brilliant colleagues across Europe. My kids have outgrown the bikes in the photo, too.
In that ten years, the world of participatory democracy has gone from small experiments and projects driven by enthusiasts to multi-million euro initiatives across the world. In Europe, there are now permanent participative democracy structures built into local and regional governments in Belgium and Poland. Citizens led change on equal marriage and abortion rights in Ireland. Most recently, when a citizen assembly called President Macron to appear before them, he came.
The next ten years promise just as much change as the last ten, as we get to grips with climate change and the social transformation that the networked society has brought about. Demsoc will be changing too – but as we do, we also want to reflect on what we’ve done in the past decade, what we learned, and how it contributed to who we are today.
So, each day during February, we’ll be sharing a story about one of our completed projects, starting tomorrow with our very first one. I hope you will enjoy reading about them.