Perry Walker writes: Those of our readers who have followed the evolution of the Win-Win Workout (see here and here) will know that we believe in splitting political decision-making into two stages. First, citizens decide what aims the decision-making should achieve. Second, there is then a role for experts in deciding what solutions best deliver those aims. In emphasising expertise in the second stage, we don’t mean to suggest that citizens have no role. Quite […]

Perry Walker writes Introduction Actually, the title’s a bit of a liberty. This article is not about Salzburg, where the Sound of Music is set. Rather, it concerns Vorarlberg, the Western-most state of Austria, which shares borders with Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It is a small state, with fewer than 400,000 inhabitants. Why Citizens Councils (Bürgerrat in German)? Well, suppose the Win-Win Workout was adopted by some part of the British system of governance. How […]

Perry Walker writes Introduction For people who haven’t come across the Win-Win Workout before, here’s a summary. The aim is to find solutions to tricky and divisive political issues that work for everyone. We do that in two stages: Identify a set of shared aims that everyone can live with Seek solutions that meet those shared aims This two-stage solution is critical. In this divisive and divided age, discussion of solutions so easily gets stuck […]

Mark Potts writes Introduction Salisbury Democracy Alliance ran this event in May 2023 with the local network of the Royal Society of Arts. Participants included two Labour councillors, along with the only Independent councillor. How it worked Participants were allocated to groups of 5/6 persons. Each group had a facilitator. The organisers had chosen the 24 cards out of the original 60 that were most relevant to Salisbury. A set of these cards was dealt […]

Martin Yarnit writes: Local government politics is sedate, slow moving, obedient to the dictates of central government – for the most part. But recently there have been some ripples, big and small. Bristol and Liverpool have both discarded their mayors. Whilst Sheffield has witnessed a polite but determined upsurge of people’s power to bring local politicians to heel. So polite that most people still haven’t grasped the significance of the change. When Sheffield Council’s new […]

Perry Walker writes: Initially, participating scientists, teachers, students, local government employees, councillors and activists, who took part in the Assemblies we organised, wondered: What is More Than Human? What happens at such an Assembly, and how does it work in terms of both the process and the outcomes? The Assembly of Humans and More Than Humans brings together all the species relevant to a particular situated and live issue. For example, whether to approve a […]

The Big One took place from Friday April 21st to Monday April 24th, mainly outside the Houses of Parliament. It was led by Extinction Rebellion (XR) but supported by over 200 other organisations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and PCS Union. Between 60,000 and 100,000 people took part over the 3 days. People’s assemblies are central to XR. (They differ from Citizens’ Assemblies, also central to XR, in being open to all, as opposed […]

Perry Walker writes: The Intensive Poultry industry in Herefordshire is enormous. 20-25% of UK chickens grown for their meat are raised in the county. At any one time, over 16 million chickens are reared in Intensive Poultry Units (IPUs) of over 40,000 birds. The cycle for raising chickens to slaughter is 42 days. In the course of a year over 7 batches are produced, in total over 112 million. The human population of Herefordshire is […]

Introduction I’m Perry Walker. I live in Hereford. I spend much of my time helping people who think they disagree to find common ground. I wanted to study attitudes to the bypass, but didn’t think I could follow my usual practice of getting people into a room (this was back in 2019). So I needed an approach based on interviews. I chose Q Methodology, which, says Wikipedia, “ is a research method used in psychology […]

Perry Walker writes: In the German state of Bavaria, not far from Munich, is the city of Augsburg. In 1898, Augsburg was the birthplace of the theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht. Marie-Pierre Leroux, my wife, an artist, and me went to Augsburg in February this year. We were taking part in the Brecht Festival. The focus of the event was a park in the city called Rote Torwallanlagen. The ecosystem of the park contains 49 species, […]