Dundee’s UK City of Culture Collaborators
In the run up to the UK City of Culture 2017 bid announcement, Gillian Easson of Creative Dundee who have led the We Dundee project reflects on why this online crowd platform has been an integral part of shaping Dundee’s bid and how it has captured the public’s imagination.
The aim of We Dundee was to empower citizens to be actively involved in developing Dundee’s bid. During the initial design phase we decided that it needed to be an independent site, as many people don’t use social media sites, but do want to contribute to discussions online. Since the site launched at the end of March this year, We Dundee has now attracted submissions from 4,000 contributors, from over 1,000 cities around the world and has been visited over 57,000 times.
We invited everyone – people who live in the city, those who have left it, and visitors who love it – to share their city insights and ideas for the future. This enabled our ‘extended’ 4,000 person bid team to co-curate ideas which directly shaped the bid and also created a great sense of pride in the city.
Although a digital project, it’s been the community who have driven its success. Content, connection and collaboration have played their roles:
We made sure that we were as transparent as we could be, about the competition. Content was shared publicly on the site and on social media, regular ‘backer emails’ updates were sent, and the story of Dundee’s bid journey was collated – not just media coverage, but from individual’s perspectives.
We recognised that everyone’s culture is different and everyone has a view which should be heard. We didn’t dictate what culture is and simply created a blank canvas for people to tell us about their city and their culture.
The thoughtful, passionate, entertaining and moving contributions have been instrumental in engaging people to return to the site again and again. The average site visit was 4 minutes at its peak – not bad at all for a brand new community site.
Hidden data was made accessible, by sharing analytical data in interesting visual ways, on things like: top visiting cities and most popular contributed submissions – this encouraged discussion and the community to grow.
It genuinely has been a team effort – from public likes and tweets, to businesses who raised awareness with their communities, to highly creative creatives and the hugely supportive local media, everyone has got behind We Dundee.
It isn’t just for digital natives. Masters of Design Graduate, Karen Lyttle took her We Dundee Connect pop-up consultation stand to communities across the city to ensure their voices were heard. People also handed in 100s of hand-written ideas to their local libraries across the city.
Thirteen year old Andrew Batchelor set up an inspiring Dundee 2017 Facebook page and we’ve worked with Andrew to share information and make him part of the We Dundee team.
Trust, a shared vision and strong partnerships have been key to developing this project. It’s used the strengths of each partner – Dundee Partnership, the local authority partnership leading the bid; Creative Dundee who had expertise of building communities; and Fleet Collective, who provided strong technology/ user interface design/ creative skills. Each partner absolutely trusted the judgement of the others – it’s been a refreshing project to work on.
The We Dundee data has now taken on a life of its own. An artist has already used and remixed the data to create new artworks; and Dundee’s new Makar W.N. Herbert created a poem from the We Dundee submissions, ‘Dundee Dreaming‘ which he read at the bid send off, which 100s of our extended bid team attended.
And We Dundee’s future? Well, that’s why we didn’t brand it with any references to 2017, as we wanted it to have a long life span. There’s a real commitment and willingness to see We Dundee continue to grow and develop as a tool which empowers citizens to make decisions for social and local good.
Something which harnesses Dundee’s strengths in creativity and the digital sector in this way, with people centrally at the heart of its development, is a very exciting and innovative prospect indeed.
Below word clouds showing the most common words submitted to We Dundee. The larger the word the more it was suggested.