SPIRAL in a nutshell

I would like to take some moments to try to summarize the briefliest possible what is SPIRAL methodology, developed by the Council of Europe since 2005.

Some context :

  • In a world which is becoming slightly smaller, and with less resources and less availability of those, increasing the wealth of the richest does not anymore mean to increase also the wealth of the poorest. Actually this more means the lesser the resources, the more the inequalities.
  • How to foster social cohesion ? How to fight against inequalities in that context ? Not with the traditional authoritarive and patronizing pattern. Let's the people be the actors of their own empowerment. Let's peer to peer.
  • How to measure social cohesion together ? What means progress for a community ? Are traditional indicators still of use ? Who are the experts in terms of measuring progress ? Can't sharing our knowledge lead to better measuring and real involvement ?

What is SPIRAL ?

  • A network of coordination groups experimenting a common method and helping it to evolve
  • A method of building shared knowledge to measure local social cohesion and progress in terms of reducing inequalities
  • A method to drive local actions together to increase social cohesion
  • All the citizens are experts : of their own well-being and of the well-being of all ; and of what kind of actions help to increase it
  • So basically we ask local groups of people to share their own criteria of well-being, ill-being, and their will to act ; to build up indicators of progress in terms of social cohesion
  • For this we find stakeholders (of various origins) wanting to start an open and incluse coordination group (everybody can join). This group then uses its contacts to build homogenous groups, which will be mixed together to find common answers
  • We promote shared responsibilities, coresponsibility : everybody is a part of the solution, and needs to be actively here for it to work

Ok, but in real ?

  • You might like to have a look on our website http://wikispiral.org, which is a first draft of a community of practice, with methodology references, community working on themes and news sharing, and a browsable database of everything expressed by citizens so far (please be nice its very young ans still needs development)
  • We have around 150 registered coordination groups, 700 homogenous groups of citizens, 52000 statements of well-being in different langages
  • We are building a network of trainers to be able to develop more quickly and also are looking forward to creating a network of researchers on several themes

That's a nice picture, but there is certainly some negative aspects !

Actually, yes, doing what we do draws a lot of questions ! Here are listed a few :

  • Citizen participation sometimes just is asking for somebody to listen their questions but not to act themselves to shape change
  • There is for now no process of self-creation of local groups from citizens but we would like this to happen !
  • The method is quite complex to overview but while practizing you actually understand what it does
  • There is a complex balance between citizen engagement and scientific uses of the data