Design strategies to enhance the dialogue between citizens and authorities

In this breakout session Ruth Kennedy from the Public Office and Ed Owles from Postcode movies gave a presentation on their work helping organisations create social change. Moniek Driesse from the Socioneers shared her experience as a design researcher and showed the importance of storytelling in creating that change.

Kennedy and Owles use film as a tool to connect citizens and (local) governments and welfare organizations. Their philosophy is ‘Making the strange familiar and familiar the strange’. Film, they say, is good way to visualize the story of an individual and if you can capture it in a wide way. If someone is reading it can be difficult to follow but actually seeing the person and hearing their voice has more impact. By visually documenting an individual, their needs and requirements become clear right away. This creates sympathy for their situation. As an example, Kennedy and Owles showed a short film about an individual suffering from dementia.

They make films like these together with the subjects. Most of the time, these people show remarkable energy and have good ideas. They don’t show the films online, only in their workshops with (healthcare) professionals. By doing so, they create a culture of learning: what is wrong with you? How can we fix it? What are your capabilities to do and how can we support you with that?

Kennedy and Owles belief is that individual needs require different types of leadership in different situations. In case of a crisis you need top down leadership, it is required to solve problems right away. But in case of complex problems, the current system of hierarchy doesn’t solve the problem, it only makes the problem bigger. For example: day-activities for disabled elderly people. Usually, the entire day is fully programmed, but nothing there delivers support to their individual needs. In a Public Office workshop a activities-programme was designed that focusses on what their ability is and how they can be as active as possible.

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