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Reflecting on our experience of Citizens without Borders Public Expo

Our first ever public event – Citizens without Borders Public Expo – was such an amazing and learning experience for all of us involved.

CwB Expo Russell SQ

We want to share with you our reflection and experiences of the event – what worked, what presently surprised us, what we enjoyed and learnt from our mini-Expo.

Thanks!

Asako & Dan

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Making and doing things by ourselves together: Making displays and setting up the space with hands – like our Art and DIY playshops, it was really enjoyable to make something by ourselves and together. I felt very happy, and it felt rewarding to see the people interacting with what we made.

Choice of venue: We liked our event was held in a public space, that is creating a space within public space (park) that represents CwB and engage with people.

Importance of and need for gathering/engaging space in public space: We learnt organizing events in a public park in London requires filling out the form, conducting risk assessment, paying fees and public liability insurance and also needing to have a first aider on the site (depending on a council). Some of these requirements may be hindrance for some people and may discourage them from organsing public event. It’d be good that councils dedicate some parks or portions of park for use of public events with terms and conditions that are more accessible to those who wish to organise public gatherings.

Recoding an event is not easy: Photographing, video-recoding or taking note of what people say was difficult when you were engaged with them or looking for an opportunity to talk to them. It’d be good to have someone dedicated to that or take turns to do so.

Display and presentation – bringing chalks and making drawing on the ground: Drawing arrows and other things on the ground can attract visitors

Display and presentation – One of the things that I really liked was the simplicity in the staging of the event – apple boxes, and bamboo poles and string! I really loved that. Also I think it’s inspiring, showing that people can bring something to the public without needing very much at all. With hindsight, I feel the big wooden display structure (for Citizenship scroll) didn’t fit with the magic of that – even though using salvaged materials. Maybe we could have people writing comments on paper – with sheets of different sizes and colours available, and hanging and arranging on a line instead – like the photos in Cindy’s display. It might feel more approachable that way. The homemade CwB sign on the chair fits with this too  – it doesn’t suggest an organisation trying to press some agenda. Doing this in a public space also really worked for similar reasons. It feels more grassroots and spontaneous rather than funded organisation – so far more interesting and engaging, especially with the mix of activities that we had.  Also it was great that the event gave a chance for real conversations, which made it far more engaging – and an opportunity for discussions between CwB members as well, which was a perfect balance.

Display and presentation – mixture of media/senses to engage people: Visual input (the posters) and activities (having a go at DIY tools and ‘Polling Station‘) as well as little chocolates were good mixture of media/senses to engage people. The big scroll did not quite work as the engagement hook for people. We need more work on it….

Polling station – the result does not represent or determine trend or consensus: I realised the people who took their time to vote were curious and open-minded. They were more likely to vote in favour of global citizenship, so the result would not represent or reveal much about public opinion (unless it is cooked with political intention to look as if it did).

Polling station – need more information: Some people thought it was a test about a current UK voting policy. It’d be more helpful to have clearer explanation.

Polling station – how people reacted: Some voters spent 10 minutes deciding, finding it hard to draw a line. It seems when we make a choice like this our conscience comes into decision. We feel we’re facing individual and making judgement about their right rather than giving opinions on abstract policy.

Polling station and other citizenship presentation – language barrier: Some people could not read English. Someone was needed to explain and assist them (but this created an opportunity of engaging with them in a deeper level)

Engaging with people more: In general. For example, conversation with voters reveals a lot more than just seeing voting paper.

But it’s nice to see voting results too: I liked seeing ‘No’ on the voting paper, even though it was a different opinion to mine, because people thought about it.

Discussion

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