Last week, I had the privilege of delivering an award to the Mayor of Pemberton, British Columbia. Here’s the story behind the award:
A few years ago, I noticed that Toronto’s public notice ads were terribly designed. In fact, they aren’t ‘designed’ at all. There is no use of colour, or images. It’s all text, with a tiny tiny font. The most important details are buried in a mountain of information, and there’s no pro-active ‘call to action’ to encourage participation. In a 2010 TED talk, I highlighted Toronto’s notices, and described them as ‘intentional exclusion’.
Ten months ago, I took it one step futher. I invited designers to re-imagine our municipal development notices, and three months later we released the submissions we had received.
It was great to see the amazing conceptual designs produced by local artists and designers – but the next step was to wait and see if any municipality in Canada would respond to our recommendations and redesign their real notices!
Then, four months later, I received a message from Jill Brooksbank, the Communications Director of Pemberton, British Columbia. They had just re-designed their Public Hearing Template, and wanted to share their new layout:
I noticed a few things right away:
1) They used colour. Five different colours, in fact. Colour is a wonderful tool that is used in almost all marketing and outreach design. It’s attractive, and catches people’s attention.
2) The property being discussed “Train Station Park” is highlighted right at the top, in clear bold letters.
3) The most relevant information is clearly highlighted.
4) The engagement process is very clear and simple.
5) Most importantly, they ASK for input and encourage participation.
So, it was with great pleasure that I traveled to BC last week, and presented both Jill Brooksbank, and mayor Jordan Sturdy with the first DNA Award.
Municipalities should be rewarded for making genuine efforts to engage the public in local decision-making. Participatory democracy requires a lot of effort, and it’s always easier to simply exclude the general public.
This award was well-deserved for Pemberton. Which city will be next?….