The Prague’s Participatory Planning Coordinators pilot program is slowly coming to an end. Its goal, which was set two years ago, was to enshrine participation in district offices as a standard approach. We cooperate on the program together with the Prague Institute of Planning and Development since the beginning. We are excited that after two years the concept of participation is much more accepted and the agenda has been successfully implemented in several offices.
The city districts, led by the participation coordinators, embarked on the implementation of numerous meaningful participatory projects during the process. We can use the city districts of Prague-Zbraslav and Prague-Lipence as an example, where Leo Steiner is the coordinator of participatory planning. He is thus one of 10 coordinators from 12 city districts participating in the city-wide pilot program. We asked him a few questions about his experience and impressions of his role as a coordinator in Zbraslav and Lipence.
Why do you think it is important to have a coordinator of participatory planning in a city district? What value does it bring to the city?
Because let’s say it’s like this grease that oils those things that should work but don’t always do so. When you find a person who is a guarantor, both towards the public and towards the office, it’s certainly very desirable and it comes back many times over.
What makes a great coordinator? Can you name his/her top 3 qualities?
The character of the person, his motivation and his qualities are essential. The basic prerequisite is good communication, assertiveness, plus expertise in fundraising, project management. But these skills can be learned, can be retrained, but the personality is essential. It’s also useful to know the environment, when one is from that given area. It’s good when he’s from the inside.
What are the next steps for your particular role to take?
The plan is that both districts would like to continue with the program. There is only a small organizational change. It is being considered to have the coordinator only in Lipenice and not in Zbraslav.
What was the biggest challenge that you had to face during the programme?
Cross-sectionally, probably inexperience, little concentration priority was applied. There were too many projects, and a large number of them were poorly prepared and discussed, which meant that there was a lot of work to do.
How do you see your role of coordinator of participatory planning now vs when in the beginning? Is it the same?
It wasn’t exactly the same, but in relation to the profile of the role there’s probably no discrepancy.
What piece of advice would you give to a newbie at your position?
One piece of advice that is important is not to be afraid and on the other hand – less is more. Concentrate really on a few basic activities, projects and don’t get distracted.
What is your biggest accomplishment regarding the programme that you are proud of?
There are two examples of success. The first one is the implementation of participatory strategic planning with conceptual deliberation – it was successful and it still looks like it will be possible to work with it for a long time. It has succeeded including participation, thanks to the borough and me. And then one thing that was already in motion was the reconstruction of the square in Zbraslav. We had a guided tour and it was successful again. We had about 50-60 people show up, beautiful weather and a great studio team of Tečka architects. And finally, that the district wants to continue and has ambitions to discover the agenda further.
Do you want to learn more about the program? Are you interested in implementing participatory planning into your agenda? Reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org