What will life be like in Macedonia in 2030? What futures do Macedonians want to build over the next 15 years? How can Macedonians imagine better futures, together?
UNDP Macedonia and verynice, a design and foresight studio, will be collaborating on an exciting project to engage citizens all across in the nation in a shared experience in civic imagination.
Complementing the UN’s MyWorld survey, and building on the success of My Municipality, which brought the UNs survey to people at the local level in Macedonia, My Municipality 2.0 will allow citizens to explore four alternative futures for the country and then contribute their own visions and priorities to a national conversation about the world to come.
Images of the future are often clouded by the news, events, and challenges of the present, or often being colonized by the visions of those already in power. It is natural to be more concerned with the present, but this focus can narrow one’s view of possible futures, possible opportunities, and possible new approached to old dilemmas. No one can create better futures when their dreams of tomorrow are prematurely constrained.
Even more fundamentally, no one can create better futures when their dreams, fears, and voices aren’t even heard. My Municipality 2.0 is built on the values of inclusivity, transparency, and broad participation. Not only will it utilize local online portals for feedback, we will also be designing and distributing printed postcards in cities around the country. While no platform and strategy can reach everyone, we hope to create opportunities for constituencies to participate through diverse forms, and continue to expand the feedback pipeline.
We are trying to inspire and gather ideas, fears, challenges, priorities and visions from the public that we don’t already know. This is a tricky and often unpredictable process, but there are tools to help. Many methods of public outreach, such as polling and surveys, can effectively capture public sentiment in the present, but are often limited when projecting out into the future. Over the last decade, new methods of engagement that harness experience design, storytelling, new media, and digital networks have expanded the toolkit of approaches to high-quality engagement. For example, earlier this year, thousands of leaders in the UAE were treated to a hands-on exhibit showing how government services might be delivered in the future. In Tunisia, following the regime change and turmoil of the Arab Spring, a group put together a campaign imagining Tunisian life three years after the revolution. It was a powerful statement, and shifted the conversation in Tunisia from the muddled present to a compelling post-revolutionary vision of a better future.
The examples and successes of experiential approaches to citizen engagement are growing. While these approaches should not be seen as replacements to traditional methods, they do offer new and effectives way to educate, provoke, and engage with citizens.
Through the online platform, My Municipality 2.0 can be reached through any internet connection and through kiosks around the country. Citizens will have the chance to explore digital artifacts from several alternative futures. After this bit of mental time-travel, participants will then have the opportunity to tag on a digital map places in Macedonia where they see signals of the future—both positive and negative. They can then express their own priorities and preferred future for their community and the country. This process will generate a “heat map” of local signals and future visions.
Finally, after exploring alternative futures and mapping their visions, participants will have the opportunity to expand upon their visions in more detail, and even begin to commit to certain actions to bring about their preferred futures.
My Municipality 2.0 is an experiment in public foresight that offers a diverse group of participants the opportunity to contribute to this critical conversation around local development priorities based on the actual needs and desires of people in these localities.
Stay tuned for updates on launch date and other logistical details, and get ready to share your visions for a better future for all Macedonians.