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Landscape for participation

Elvira Pujol and Joan Vila Puig

The publication of the book, Paisatge i participació ciutadana ("Landscape and Citizen Participation) by the Landscape Observatory represents a great opportunity and it is a new contribution to a topic which sorely needs new reflections to update the concept and, especially, new practices to move forward on related issues. It's clear that participation is doubly-complex to manage: on the one hand, this is due to the explosion of variables implied in even simple analyses of landscape as the scenario for social life, and, on the other, due to the intricate network of the different administrative agents which make up the State of Law and Representative Democracy.Given this complexity, we feel that the areas of participation don't have to be limited or simplified; rather, participation has to be focused and has to be targeted towards achieving an end, a process which reinforces a shared public diagnosis. This implies mobilising citizen participation beyond cosmetic and functional questions, granting citizens the responsibility to carry out economic assessments and to study ecological impacts, the hypothetical energy sources of the future and, without doubt, the developmental models in their respective scales of application. Perhaps there are too few institutional calls for citizen participation, but that is not the case with actual scenarios and initiatives for reflection and real participation. An increasingly significant number of autonomous initiatives and dynamics have been freely launched to build and protect that which is common to all of us; they represent participatory exercises which not only give people the opportunity to collaborate in decision-making regarding public matters but also represent pedagogical practices which generate experiences and create spaces for autonomy and developing relationships. It is from these autonomous spaces that we feel it is necessary to consolidate on-going surveys, understood as a set of participatory actions which foment continued knowledge-building and committed evaluations. Only through these measures can we launch collective consultations with legislative ambitions and see their application as a negotiated return for society.

As could not be otherwise, this so-called citizen participation will one day be supplanted by real participation. However, this will not be without the conflicts which always arise in social recognition dynamics, whether or not the issues are being debated on television. As such, for good democratic health, it would be desirable to recognise those practices which serve to institute and which arise from the communities, the true producers of active and transforming subjects in the construction of new common spaces.

Sitesize Elvira Pujol and Joan Vila Puig

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