Viral public engagement.

'On the railings'

Innovative public engagement through online resources.   Funding: none.

Labels on railings in Cambridge

In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, when there was still no proper debate in the UK Parliament, we developed on-line resources to enable local public comment across the country and to encourage debate.

The idea was taken up by individuals, churches, schools and groups around the UK, generating events in London, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Cambridge, Totnes and towns and villages from Devon to Essex.  The locally organised Cambridge event was reported by the BBC.

The website – www.ontherailings.org.uk – suggested a process which deliberately echoed the tying of notes to the railings at 'ground zero' in New York.  It suggested inviting local people to express their thoughts, insights and concerns about the war publicly (both for and against) – by writing and tying a label to railings in their town or village. railings website

The website offered inspiration, guidance and resources for the initiator / facilitator, including all the materials to print to get started locally.  It also included links to background information, and sources of labels.  We added our own diary of the experience of piloting it in a local town with photos.  Later it also included photos sent in by others around the UK who took up the idea and used the resources.

The daily web statistics showed the gradual and increasing spread of visitors to the site, and that these included the US government and military.

Note: This project was carried out independently of PublicSpace.