Back in 2013, Aarhus municipality asked for recommendations for the future organization and handling of assignments which would be better aligned with the needs of citizens, companies and organizations. On this basis The Danish Board of Technology Foundation planned and facilitated a process with representatives from these exact parties.
Based on this very debate, a Citizen Ship Committee was established in 2014 and it has spent the last two years working on the development on a new policy.
The Citizen Ship Committee’s project manager Tine Holm Mathiasen, under the Mayor’s department in Aarhus, says: “It has been two educative years, where the committee amongst other things has co-created the first policy on citizen ship in Aarhus. The committee was made up of politicians and citizens (companies, associations and those who often feel excluded). It has been very exciting to work with policy-development in a new way and to develop methods for strengthening new communities as a part of the Citizen Ship Committee’s work.
The Citizen Ship Committee was met with great levels of interest and support, as well as acknowledgements from other municipalities. They think it is a great initiative to invite citizens to partake in the makings of politics on equal footing with political representatives. The Committee members have stressed this as well in their feedback for the municipality. The Committee even thinks that all types of assignments can be solved by citizens and politicians working together. However, it would require support and encouragement from the municipality. In exchange, the citizens will gain influence and a new understanding of the workings of the public system, further knowledge on how the municipality works and what it is actually capable of.
“The Committee has worked together on this case and the goals set by citizens, politicians and party politics. It was a development of methods in an equal cooperation. The citizens on the Committee felt that it was appropriate for the work to end when it did – two years is the optimal time to work on a project such as this, but they would be happy to collaborate with the municipality again should the opportunity present itself.”