Trip to Asikkala!

Trip to Asikkala - meeting with our project partner   23.10.2014

One of our most important meetings was to be hold in Asikkala, where we were able to get to know our project partner and our target group (the people of Asikkala) better.

Our project partner had made clear what they hoped for the project to achieve, but with our presentation we hoped to get some more specific information on how to proceed with the case. Since the last meeting with Asikkala’s officials our idea had been developed a lot further. Now we had some more precise ideas on the tools used for gathering the opinions and knowledge from the people of Asikkala. We presented our idea first by introducing our value creation practises that we had used in getting to know and understand our target groups needs and the values behind the product wanted. This was a useful tool that we were taught to use at the Demola Jam sessions.

Our main point of the presentation was to show the partner our ideas on the various ways of how opinions could be gathered for better decision-making. Getting people to participate and to get more interested in the whole process were essential features in our ideas. We presented the following ideas for possible tools: mapping tool, pad survey, information bank, interpreter and campaign. Shortly about our ideas: similar to all of our tools are flexibility, easiness to use and to access. With pad surveys located in public places, eg. in the local supermarket anyone can easily come and answer questions, that are changed during every on going project. Map surveys on the internet are a good way of visualizing the living environment, which makes it also to bring out own experiences and opinions on specific places. The interpretation service would make the communication between the people and the municipality better and the information bank would gather together all previous knowledge gathered for further use. The campaign would be an great way of getting the people interested in participating in the first place and of informing people about what is going to happen next in the process.

Our project partner seemed to be interested and excited about our ideas, and we got some good feedback from all people present. One of the concerns were that the people need to be involved in the process at the early phases. Many realize their possibilities to influence in the decision-making process too late, when decision are already made. Therefore, emphasis on getting people to activate earlier has to be encouraged. Our tools were still on a general level, and the partner hoped to hear our thoughts on a more concrete level next time.

At the end of our visit, we had decided on “going out to the field” to actually get to know our target group, besides our project partner, the municipality of Asikkala. Through interviews made at the parking lot of a local market place, we got to know the people of Asikkala and their opinions on participation a little bit better. The statistics of the aging population of Asikkala proved to be correct. Despite this, we got to interview people from different age groups. We wanted to know, whether the people had participated in the municipality’s decision-making and how they generally feel about their possibility to influence it. If they hadn’t participated in any way, knowing the reason behind this unwillingness was equally fascinating.

According to the interviews we made (representing only a small amount of the municipality’s residents, of course) we noticed that many felt like a single person doesn’t have that much or zero effect in official decision-making and therefore participation was seen as indifferent. There seemed to be lack of knowledge in municipality’s affairs. But when it came to asking them about preferable ways of participating, easy and flexible ways seemed to be the answer. For some this meant tools, such as questionnaires on internet, which would make it easy to answer anywhere anytime. This way people who live further away have equally good chances of participating, instead of coming to meet the decision-makers or answering a pad survey in the supermarket. For older people this seemed to be a problematic way of doing things and meeting the decision-makers face-to-face seemed to be a better option.

All this knowledge helped us to form a sense of what is needed from the peoples point of view. When it comes to get people to participate, first you have to go out to the field in order to know the people who are in question and their opinions! In total, this trip was eye-opening, in the sense of getting our ideas in the open and testing them with our project partner and in getting to know our customers better, both the people of Asikkala and the Asikkala municipality.  :)

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Working hours: 62,5h for week 5. Next tasks: To go through the interviews and analyzing them. Focusing on some of our tools, bringing them and our project to a more concrete level.

Lilli Siikasmaa 18.11.2014


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