Attended this 1-day course last Saturday entitled 'Participation and Development: If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!' jointly organised by Engineers Without Borders UK and Architects Sans Frontieres UK.
We looked at some tools that can aid participation. In particular, techniques for social data gathering (Pie charts, Venn diagrams, Flow diagrams) and spatial mapping (of the human body and geographic areas).
I found the example of Westfield constructing a new shopping centre in Stratford quite interesting - residents are being asked "How do you want this shopping centre?" rather than "Do you want this shopping centre?" Leading questions!
The second half of the workshop involved a group exercise. Given a post-Tsunami scenario replicating a Southern Indian village, each person was given a character/role and in increasingly larger groups of increasingly conflicting interests we had to identify and prioritise the top "needs" of the village.
Lesson learnt: Think positively - begin by grouping commonalities rather than shooting down anomalies.