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A Bird's Eye View: When Lively Parks meet the Rules
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Questions: A community might...... 17-Sep-2010 by Belinda Cole 
• Here are some questions we might want to ask when we consider how existing or proposed new laws or policies affect our local parks and public commons.
Part of A Bird's Eye View: When Lively Parks meet the Rules Notebooks: Laws and Regulations Policy Theory
Our park and what works well here
1. What do we like best about how our local park works?
2. What doesn't work well in our park? What would we like to see changed?
3. What are our central goals for our park (or pool or library or other public commons)?
4. What rules work well here and what rules get in the way of our fullest enjoyment of our public space?
Thinking about rules that work for us:
5. Who is responsible for making the particular rule(s) in question?
6. What is her/his/its authority to make the rule?
7. Does the rule-maker use or frequent our park?
8. Does he/she/it know how the existing rules affect park life on a day-to-day basis?
9. Does she/he/it have the knowledge necessary to make rules for our local public space?
10. What is the central goal behind the existing or proposed rule? Is it one of the central goals we identified?
11. If not, does the goal behind the rule reflect a “live” issue in our public space?
12. Whose goal is it, and what does the rule say about our public space and how it should be used?
Has someone suggested that a new rule or new staff training? Who? Why? What exactly is the issue? ?
13. Who has raised or identified the issue?
14. For whom is it an issue or problem? Citizens? City councillors? Other politicians? Civil servants - at the city, provincial or federal level? Industry or other commercial interests?
15. What exactly is the problem/issue/ill we are trying to avoid, or remedy?
16. Does the stated problem/issue/ill cause us to feel anxious or fearful? If so, is it reasonable for us to pause, feel this fear and let it pass, so we can consider the facts from a calm and reasoned place?
How do we decide if there really is a problem we need to address?
17. Is there any hard data that tells us that there is a problem? What is our initial gut response to the claims of the study? Is it true to our experience of our local park and what actually happens there?
18. What is the data? Does it take into account the long-time, day-to-day experiences of all of us who use our local public space?
19. Who collected it? How and why? Who paid to have it collected?
20. Is the information easy to read and understand? Are the assumptions behind the research clearly stated? Do we agree with the assumptions? Does the presentation invite questions, or is it written in a way that we feel ill equipped to ask thoughtful questions? Does the presentation of the data emphasize fearful occurences and “what-if's”, or is it based on clear reliable, easily confirmed information? Are the research methods and background sources clearly identified, so park users can check them out to determine their reliability?
21. If there are stories about what has happened in the park, who is telling and who knows about the stories? Can they be verified by observation, etc
22. What is the worst thing that could happen because of the issue or problem?
23. Has this worst thing every happened before? If so, where? What do other park users say about what happened? Are the circumstances similar in important ways?
24. If the issue or problem has led to serious harm to people (for example if someone has been seriously injured or died), how can we respond to our sorrow and fear and also act wisely to prevent further harm?
25. What are the present effects of addressing this issue on the basis of theoretical harm - “what if”? Do we approach decisions in our home or families on a “what if” basis, or based on our experience about what is and is not an unacceptable risk? Who benefits finacially or otherwise from guarding against theoretical harm? How do decisions based on theoretical as opposed to actual harm affect our ability to enjoy our local parks? Make decisions about our priorities for how we wish to spend our tax dollars to run our public parks?
Making a decision or rule that feels right for our local amenity
26. Do we agree that the issue needs to be addressed in some way?
27. If so, is this a city, province or country-wide issue or rather one that affects ours or a group of local neighbhourhoods? As such, does the situation call for a specific, localized response or a broad "across the board" approach?
28. What alternatives fit with our our central goals for our park?
29. What are the direct and indirect costs of each option: 1. on our central goals? 2. Our ability to make local decisions that work for our park? 3. On local and other public spending choices?
30. How have other neighbourhoods or people involved with this issue dealt with this - or similar - issues? What do they say about the issue being raised and their experiences?
31. If we want to address the issue, what governance or other tools – formal or informal - are available to us? (on a local, city, province or Canada-wide level)?
32. If we decide to make a rule of some kind, how do we: 1. convey the rules simply and clearly 2. specify the authority to make the rule 3. tell how the rule is to be enforced – and by who 4. post it so people can read it for themselves? 5. monitor how the rule works on the ground?