SMART Method of Public Policy is a method of civic engagement and policy making. It was launched a year ago and has generated 4 success stories so far. Each story is different in approach, duration, people engaged and offline activities used. However, they show how creative one can be in addressing community problems.
The first community problem that became success story is called Urban mobility and was raised in the city of Galati. In order to boost the debate over it, we organized a meeting with the students from Lower Danube University. That is where the idea of many roundabouts was first proposed, to replace traffic lights. Although it seems like an easy solution, there was only one functional roundabout at that time. Among all the interesting ideas published by citizens, we chose to recommend the City Hall to transform some intersections in roundabouts.
The second success story happened fast, because the problem was urgent. Underneath the asphalt on a street from Galati, a cave was forming. This was seriously jeopardising the drivers because the asphalt could cave in anytime. The problem identification form allows citizens to also publish a photo of the problem. So, the problem was published, together with photos and a map with the exact location of the cave. Being urgent, we also sent an email to Galati City Hall and in three days they covered it.
The third success story was created with the Romanian Ministry of Education. The problem was named Nonformal education in schools. The problem issuer explained that schools in Romania are not equiped with spaces where students feel free, where they can express their needs and interests freely and constructively. As an offline approach, we discussed options to address this problem in a ENGAGEMENT Training with partner organizations of SMART Method of Public Policy, in Dolj County. We decided to ask the Ministry of Education to send out recommendations to schools, encouraging them to engage in partnership activities with local NGOs and companies to initiate nonformal education projects. The Ministry replied with stipulations of the new law of national education. This contains articles that are actually encouraging descentarlization, allowing schools to choose their educational partners and the types of activities they want to engage in, including nonformal education.
The fourth success story is about a small neighborhood park in Galati. The residents want to improve it, but they don’t have resources. So, we recommended the City of Galati to rehabilitate it. Although the City Hall did not send workers there, they told us what is the legal way to get help. The residents need to make an apartment owners’ association and make a contract with the City. This way they can get support, tools and almost everything they need.
As these success stories tell, we can generate change in the community. It takes initiative and perseverence. Sometimes you need to be a little pushy with the authorities to generate a reaction, but in a constructive way. SMART Method of Public Policy saves you time and money to get involved. You only need to raise problems and post solution ideas. You will also realise that it is very difficult to find good solutions to community problems. That is why we need creativity and SMART Method provides room for constructive debate in the online and offline environments, bringing together people from all walks of life. We take the best solution ideas and put them on the desks of elected and appointed officials. But, more than that, we provide the methodology to allow the problem issuers have the last say and decide whether they agree or not with the action or response of the public institutions.