2019-05-29Souper #101

Souper #101

The last Monday of May we picked up our meetings with a new Souper and two interesting guests. Researcher Beitske Boonstra and moderator Bart Cosijn explained in detail what participation means and what it means to us.

Dr. ir. Beitske Boonstra is the founder of the research and consultancy agency BecomingPlanner. She is also a part-time scientific researcher at the University of Ghent, Department of Mobility and Spatial Planning. Her research focuses on citizen initiatives in the spatial domain, cooperative forms of urban development, and associated governance capacities. Beitske obtained her Masters in Urbanism at Delft University of Technology (2005) and her PhD in Spatial Planning at Utrecht University (2015). Her dissertation entitled -Planning Strategies in an Age of Active Citizenship: A Post-structuralist Agenda for Self-organization in Spatial Planning- examines the emergence of citizen initiatives in spatial development and examines the consequences this has for the role of spatial planners. From 2006-2016, Beitske worked as a researcher / advisor at TNO Strategy and Policy, where she did research on the interfaces between space, economy, technology and process innovation, and organized learning and innovation processes for governments. Beitske is a guest lecturer at several Dutch universities, a regular speaker at national and international conferences and a columnist for Archined.

Ir. Bart Cosijn is the discussion leader, moderator and Urban Dialogue expert. Bart graduated cum laude as an architect at Delft University of Technology. After 2 years of working at the architectural firm Rijnboutt, he was more interested in the interaction between people than between brick and concrete. In 2008 he therefore started his own practice for moderating public meetings and debates, participation programs and round table discussions. In addition, Bart advises governments throughout the country on participation and democracy and he regularly provides training sessions in conversation. Bart is the initiator and chairman of the Burgertop Amsterdam Foundation and was previously editor-in-chief of Ruimtevolk, Debate Coordinator Professional Association BNSP and Member of the Advisory Council on Citizen Involvement and Participation in Amsterdam.

Citizens' initiatives and the participation society are social phenomena of today, I thought. Beitske and Bart quickly make it clear that this is not the case. Centuries ago, civil society organizations were established such as corporations and water boards with a common goal that people could join. In our complex society, people know how to organize themselves again, now around a certain theme, a certain location or a defined subject. This is a positive development and increases social involvement. At the same time, there are now many situations in which people or parties are confronted with each other. For example, self-interest versus social necessity quickly becomes an issue. Professional knowledge and skills versus research by lay people and intuitive thoughts often arouses mutual mistrust. Consciously or unconsciously, politicians and citizens only seem to act from an acquired position. Democratic processes and citizen participation are therefore far too opposed to each other. Beitske and Bart have patiently explained to us that these two organizational forms complement each other well. Every day they both work hard to make that clear to others.