Community Engagement for Social Inclusion


Open Space Technology

Beneficiary / Participants

Adults of any background living in marginalised communities.


To drive the people to take part in collective construction processes involving the group in a development process. To develop a sense of belonging to the community providing a collective experience.

Description of the method

Open Space Technology (OTS) is a participatory planning technique that provides a space for discussion and creative learning between people. It can be used to carry out any project that requires collaboration and cooperation. The method is particularly effective to manage a complex and potentially conflicting situation. It encourages an innovative and productive approach and promotes active discussion to address the concerns and problems shared in a local community. In this sense, the method fosters a sense of belonging which acts as a powerful tool to mobilise the community to action.The open context and the voluntary self-selection are the sine qua non for participating in the event. In this way, the participants will honour the past, acknowledge the present, and anticipate the future. Throughout the process a sense of “high play” will make it possible to see today’s challenges as tomorrow’s opportunities. The meeting space into a neighborhood place provides the mechanism for bringing together people's interests in an ordinary way, since it’s their own life place.

How to

OST can be split over three phases in a day: each succeeding phases is not dedicated to a separate activity in a linear sequence (discussion, recording and reflection) but the groups develop their own rhythm which takes up the new activities as time allows.

Presentation, illustration of the theme and agreed definition of the work program: The facilitators explain how the process works, introduce the topic on which the community is invited to work and explore the thematic elements. During this phase all the participants are invited to propose a specific topic for discussion and to formulate synthetic proposals.

Discussion, division into various work groups, registration of the results: Once the topics have been defined, they will be written on a board. Participants are then invited to join a group according to which topic they would like to work on.

These groups will be assigned a mutually agreeable time and place for a breakout session to work independently for a maximum of 90 minutes. The sessions will be organised to run in succession to allow the facilitator to follow the progress of each discussion. At the end of the sessions a participant, helped by the facilitator, will write a summary of the activities, finding and points of discussion to put on a community bulletin board for wider input.

Conclusions, reflection and revision: Finally the participants will meet again all together to share ideas and reflections emerging from the group work. Everyone will be given the opportunity to talk about the experience and propose further ideas for future projects. The ideas, documents and any other material produced during the OST day will support the realisation of participatory projects in the neighbourhood.


Three phases, of 2 hours each, in one day.



Harrison Owen, Open Space Technology. A User's Guide