The Vienna meeting took place from the 13th to the 15th of June 2013 and was hosted by PlanSinn GmbH.

The story of the meeting

What was your intention while planning to host your meeting?
Lena (PlanSinn)
The Local Squares meeting in Vienna was supposed to show ways how city departments and practitioners can co-create participation processes.

What do you love about working with participation?
Jutta Kleedorfer (Vienna city department MA18)
I love to find these yet to be realized little gaps in city administration and their spaces for new possibilities in participation from different people.

What would you say are the unique qualities of the city shown thru your visit?
Cristina (UCL)
The city of Vienna has the quality of a socialist tradition that had created a network of public spaces adapted to several kinds of public: gender issues, multicultural uses, polyvalent spaces are all enough represented in a big range of facilities, very close to their users. Whenever this network fails to accomplish its social role, Einfach-Mehrfach, a well run public urban system allows citizens to demand public spaces to be renewed or created into places.

What did you experience in the dynamic of the partnership?
Heinrich (PlanSinn)
What I found interesting in this European partnership was the fact that almost each of the participants could be counted as an individual member of one of the many differently motivated groups which do exist towards the goal ‚participation‘: it‘s a broad range from guerilla like tactics to fight with municipal administrations, to the busy developer of a private-public partnership project. From the voluntary taking over of municipal tasks - a bucket of concrete could enable wheelchairs to cross the city - to intermediate agencies between citizens and administrations which make their living out of the commissions, often together with a certain academic background where practical studies can lead. It givesme much pleasure to workin a community so mixed up. Although we have much in common, we have different targets .


The minutes and hand-outs for that meeting you find here . You can also read some papers that were written in the meeting's aftermath, or browse through the photo gallery.

Projects we visited

You will find here an overview of the projects we visited in Vienna.

Einfach-Mehrfach (Simply-multiple)
Two descriptions in German you can find on the website of city of Vienna and on the website

We visited eight public parks in the 5th district of Vienna, which have been developed during the simply-multiple program: Scheupark, Bacherplatz, Ruhe- und Sinnesgarten, Siebenbrunnenplatz, Einsiedlerplatz, Ernst-Lichtblau-Park, Am Hundsturm, Bruno-Kreisky-Park und Gürtel.

Local Agenda 21 Plus Vienna
Basic information about Local Agenda 21 Plus you get on the website. Detailed information you find in German.

“Blended participation” for Schwedenplatz project. Detailed information in German you can read at

Methods we used

Wisdom Council
The idea behind the Wisdom Council is simple, whereas the concrete implementation process is much more complex. 300-500 people of a defined area
(community, federal state, district) will be randomly selected out of the population register. They are invited to participate for 1,5 days to discuss burning topics in respect to the development of the defined area. Finally 12-20 people do participate and elaborate solutions and proposals for the particular issue whereas these statements will presented to a broader public within a Citizens Café. The Wisdom Council is facilitated with a certain method – called Dynamic Facilitation. The results serve to consult the politicians in their decision-making processes.

Speed Dating
To get in contact with several people in a short time slot PlanSinn uses the method Speed Dating. It is gives space for exchanging experiences with different people in the field. You invite several experts hosting one table. The participants split up in groups whereas each invited expert hosted one table for exactly ten minutes to introduce their own work, experiences and insights. After ten minutes the participants change the tables. After all sessions the facilitator asks the hosts for the highlights of the discussions.

Laboratoire dérive arises from the way people during the “Situationistischen Internationalen” worked. The theories of Guy Debords as well as the ideas of
psychogeography are connected to dérive walks. “Psychogeography is the study of the effects of geographical setting, consciously managed or not, acting directly on the mood and behaviour of the individual. Psychogeography research is carried through non-scientific methods such as the dérive – aimless drifting through the city, trying to record the emotions given by a particular place.” ( am 22.5.2013 at 1pm)

Democratic Walk
The „Democratic Walk“ as a tool means drifting through the city by making democratic decisions with green and red cards that help to agree and decide in the group where to go. Each participant gets a green and a red card (green for turning right and red for turning left) which are holded in the air so that everybody could see who wants to go right or left at a bifurcation.
With that walk we to train our own comprehension of democratic decisionmaking. During the Democratic Walk the group is asked to focus on the following questions:
• Which criteria or aspects lead us to a decision?
• How long do decisions take?
• What do we have to discuss during the decision-making process?
• Does someone lead the decisions?

People we got to know

Sonja Gruber is sociologist and cultural anthropologist. She is working in the field of (Youth)Participation in School-Building-Processes and Urban Planning .
Here is the link to her website.

Gesa Witthöft is working at the Technical University of Vienna at the Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning. Her field is participation in urban renewal and social inequality

Margot Deerenberg is an urban Researcher. With the group ONORTHODOX she works in the field of Urbanisation and Global Challenges.

Jennifer Kickert is member of the Green Party and Vienna City Council. She is working on participation from a political perspective.

Jutta Kleedorfer is working in the municipal department 18 in the city of Vienna. She has the coordination role of simply-multiple.

Andrea Binder-Zehetner is director of the association Local Agenda 21 Vienna.