There are 310 different Finnish municipalities of different size and population with unique challenges and resources (The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities 2019). In order to succeed participation requires effort and co-operation from several parties in different stages of the process. To become reality in a sustainable way, enough resources need to be allocated to participation – be it money, labor or knowledge (Lehtonen et al. 2020; Sinervo 2020). EmPaci-project believes that the often-scarce resources of municipalities can be taken into better use by for example training.
Train the Trainer Model Boosts Development
The training needed can be conducted using a Train the Trainer approach below from the EmPaci project (figure 1), where new skills are built upon existing ones and knowledge is shared amongst others. The training emphasizes practice but is built upon a theoretical background. The implementation of the Train the Trainer training model is based on small but systematic steps toward Participatory Budgeting (PB). The model is always tailored to suit the needs of participants.
Practice Makes Perfect – Preparing for PB in Lahti
The city level participation model and PB as a tool are currently being developed in Lahti, and the work is done in a systematic way. An internal survey was conducted in 2019 for the personnel of The City of Lahti to map out the current state of participation and PB. The results pointed out that participation as a method was well known in Lahti but the personnel felt a need for support and practice in holding workshops as facilitators and finding ways to support inhabitant participation in different ways (City of Lahti 2019). The international EmPaci – Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project, funded by the EU Interreg fund supports the city by providing them with up to date research on PB and the personnel with opportunities for practical training.
Internal Train the Trainer -events have been held in early 2020 regarding PB for employees of the City of Lahti, and more are planned for different stakeholders and inhabitants. City employees from different units have been very interested in finding out more about this subject and taking part in practical training. “The concept of PB in general and methods in particular are very interesting as we interact a lot with inhabitants and other stakeholders in our daily work. We look forward to using PB and finding out what kind of effects we will achieve with inhabitants and also within units in our organization,” conclude participants Aino Mäkilä, Marko Ahokas and Sini Ojala from The City of Lahti.
Continuous Development as a Goal
The training model needs to be tailored to suit the needs of each individual situation and those of the participants to get the greatest effect. “We gather feedback from the participants and monitor and adapt the process continuously as our goal is to enable the best possible level of participation for inhabitants, a successful PB-pilot for the City of Lahti as well as gather and distribute up-to-date knowledge on PB in Finland for our international partners and others interested in taking up PB in their municipalities,” concludes Lotta-Maria Sinervo, Project Lead at Tampere University – a Finnish partner of EmPaci alongside LAB University of Applied Sciences. In Lahti, new and improved skills will soon be taken into use for the benefit of inhabitants as the City of Lahti released a statement in February saying that a PB pilot will be run in 2020 (City of Lahti 2020).
Read more about PB pilot in Lahti.
Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities 2019. Webpage 3.4.2019: Suomen kaupungit ja kunnat. [Cited 13th March 2020] Available at: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/tilastot-ja-julkaisut/kaupunkien-ja-kuntien-lukumaarat-ja-vaestotiedot
Kurikka, Päivi, 2020. Specialist at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. Presentation “EmPaci-hankkeen OSBU-työpaja” at a Train the Trainer -event by EmPaci at LAB University of Applied Sciences 18.2.2020, Lahti.
City of Lahti 2019. An internal survey: ”Osallisuustyön nykytila-arvio”. Not published, available at the City of Lahti.
Lehtonen, P. Jäntti, A. Sinervo, L-M & Kurkela, K. 2020. Hypetyksestä huomio osallistuvan budjetoinnin resursseihin. The Association of the Local and Regional Authorities 2020. [Cited 9 March 2020] Available at: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/blogi/2020/hypetyksesta-huomio-osallistuvan-budjetoinnin-resursseihin
Sinervo, L-M. 2020. Project Lead at EmPaci-project, Tampere University. Presentation: “Kestävä osallisuus, kestävä kuntatalous – osallisuuden resursoinnin näkökulmia” at Kuntademokratia foorumi -event 10.3.2020. [Cited: 26th March 2020, available at: https://www.kuntaliitto.fi/tapahtumat/2020/kuntademokratiaverkoston-tapaaminen-1032020. City of Lahti 2020. Osallistuva budjetointi. [Cited: 3. March 2020] Available at: https://www.lahti.fi/paatoksenteko/osallistujavaikuta/osallistuva-budjetointi
Ahokas, Marko. 2020. Participant at an internal training event from The City of Lahti organization. Interview at the Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020. Interviewer Annukka Heinonen.
Mäkilä, Aino, 2020. Participant at an internal training event from The City of Lahti organization. Interview at the Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020. Interviewer Annukka Heinonen.
Ojala, Sini, 2020. Participant at an internal training event from The City of Lahti organization. Interview at the Train the Trainer event at LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti on February 18, 2020. Interviewer Annukka Heinonen.
Annukka Heinonen (MBA) works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and as a Project Manager for EU Interreg funded EmPaci – Empowering Participation in the Baltic Sea Region -project at LAB.