About the project
Steph Vajda, working with Brisbane planning agency Plan C, was engaged by Townsville City Council’s department of Community and Environment to support their community planning process with managing a SpeakOut engagement event.
The event was designed to provide community contribution to Council’s Community Plan and, more specifically, their Healthy Families Plan for the city. Working closely with Council staff, Steph designed a successful SpeakOut to present previous engagement outcomes, ideas and concepts for the Plan and opportunities for people to talk with specialists and facilitators and share their views.
SpeakOuts are interactive, drop-in style engagement events that present information in separate themed ‘stalls.’ They’re designed to be used later in an engagement program to allow people to engage with information and contribute their own perspectives either at specific stalls according to their interests, or at all stalls.
The event was designed as a community celebration. This meant incorporating musical performances, fun family activities and elements specifically targeted at young people, like skate. The success of this SpeakOut lay in the months of careful planning conducted by Steph with Council staff, the incorporation of creative ways of contributing, rather than just opportunities to talk or write, and the broadening of the event to be an enjoyable community day. The result was attendance by over 700 local people and hundreds of sheets of large paper covered in people’s suggestions for making Townsville more family friendly, safe and healthy.
“The SpeakOut is a lively, innovative, colourful and interactive staffed exhibition — a hybrid event combining some of the characteristics of a meeting and some of an exhibition or ‘open house’.
The purpose is to provide an informal and interactive ‘public meeting’ environment where a wide range of people have a chance to participate.
It is designed to facilitate structured ‘drop-in’ 1 participation about planning and design issues. Participants come to the venue, find the issues on which they wish to ‘speak out’ and have their say.”
Local people attending
Facilitators making it happen
Pieces of butchers paper used
We published a book on the SpeakOut model!
SpeakOut: The Step-by-Step Guide to SpeakOuts and Community Workshops (Earthscan Tools for Community Planning)
Written with Wendy Sarkissian and Wiwik Bunjamin-Mau
Praise for the book...
“It’s time to deepen the public conversation! SpeakOut gives us an intimate look at how we can do that.”
Dr. Patricia A. Wilson (Professor of Planning and Civic Engagement, University of Texas, Austin)