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Our Delft - Make the City!

People are a powerful force in city making. But how do you engage with them?

The challenge

How do you involve residents and entrepreneurs in their city’s future? In Delft, public participation is not new at all. The municipality has organized successful participation projects in the past. The strategy that has been custom-designed for this, ‘Delfts Doen’, is an example adopted by many other city councils. Time for the next step! Which is: to engage even more people for the city’s future. But how do you reach them? By showing how their input helps to shape the city and influences their own living environment, and by encouraging their continued participation. By showing the city’s assets and potentials, and dreaming of what could be. Our idea was a programme full of lively events throughout the city – which would not look out of place at a festival. We launched our concept for the participatory process‘ Ons Delft, Maak de Stad!’ in early 2019.

Our approach

Every group of people, every place and every challenge is different. To be effective, participation and co-creation call for an approach tailored to each unique situation. There are no standard solutions, no short cuts. Working with the municipality, we began by identifying the day’s ultimate objective. What would make it a success? We trimmed our lengthy wish list down to two key goals: to show people that they have a say in envisioning their city’s future, and to encourage them to get involved and engage with topics close to their heart.

For this, we collected all the information we could from the various stakeholders, and met with city councillors to discuss the main policy topics of the future. Next, we visited the city and spoke to local organizations. What was their vision of Delft’s future? What did they see as the key issues? We invited them to be a part of the big day, either at their own premises or at the town hall.

The programme and communications about the day were organized centrally. A toolkit with a logo, distinctive graphic identity, posters of future dilemmas, visuals and sample texts was developed and given to the partners to help them recruit participants quickly and easily.

Ons Delft - Maak de Stad

The result

On May 18, more than 1,500 visitors attended ‘Ons Delft – Maak de Stad!’. Dozens of activities, spread over more than 20 locations, focused on the future of Delft. People, young and old, spoke with each other and with the municipality, were inspired by ideas for the city’s future at the innovation café, and saw innovative designs in action. And while visitors toured the city on the Delft Debate Bike, they engaged in dialogue about themes linked to the destination. The Mobile Coffee Salon came to town, and didn’t just trade coffee for ideas, but brought an alderman along to listen to what people had to say and join the conversation. It was no coincidence the key message of the day was ‘we make the city together’.

The municipality of Delft looks back on a successful day—read more about their thoughts on the event here.

Curious about our approach to other projects? Then read about the Stadhuispromenade in Almere or the 750th anniversary of Gouda.