Gap between citizens and local Limburg governments

Brainstorm with Association Cities of Limburg [VLG] | 50 mayors and aldermen exchanged ideas on how to strenghten the connection between citizen and local governments.

Trust, responsibilities and social media

Invited by Mrs Penn-te Strake, mayor of the city of Maastricht and chairlady of an association representing all municipalities of the Dutch province of Limburg [VLG], I hosted a brainstorm about the growing gap between citizens and local governments. The audience consisted of local aldermen and mayors from around the province. Based on a number of statements, on which attendees could vote via Sendsteps technology, we talked about “trust”, “the role of social media” and “responsibility” of citizens and public servants when it comes to ‘democracy participation’.

A little provocative 

Already soon I sensed somewhat of a laissez-faire attitude “It doesn’t matter what we do, citizens already lost trust”. I provoked some attendees by questioning them about a possible victim-role. This sparked a lively discussion, especially between older and younger public servants. The role of social media was heavily discussed: half of the attendees being strong believers in a 2.0 approach, whereas the other half was extremely critical.

Concrete output: 4 task forces

At the end of the session several task force groups were formed. With help of Sendsteps technology, attendees were asked in which group they wanted to take part and how they were thinking to contribute. After an engaged discussion it was easy to quickly form these groups. As such we achieved a valuable harvest: 4 motivated groups that are all eager to tackle issues within their region. These task forces are now working on one-year projects and their work will be presented on a national level.

Local Dutch newspaper “De Limburger” published an article about this constructive brainstorm!