Community involvement and the use of direct democracy elements constitute the innovative core of the Berlin NM. The Neighbourhood Councils are the heart of the NM project, having been designed to further both of these objectives. The councils give local residents a say in what happens in their neighbourhoods, providing a platform for discussion and consultation. It also enables them to have a hand in deciding how the Neighbourhood Funds allocated to their neighbourhood are used. The councils’ work helps to improve communication and networking among the local community, stakeholders, and government authorities.
Involvement of residents and stakeholders from across the entire community, representing the greatest possible spectrum, is extremely important for the program to reflect the diversity of the population living in those neighbourhoods, and pursue a needs-based approach. Strengthening communication and networking facilitates pooling of resources, and leads to more effective collaboration and cooperation. Drawing on know-how from local residents and stakeholders helps to ensure projects are designed from the ground up, making the most efficient use of available funds. The work of the Neighbourhood Councils significantly contributes to the development of creative pilot projects, which can then become a starting point for positive development both in their own neighbourhoods and for others.
These projects occur as a result of stakeholders learning to work together towards a common goal, and when residents are motivated to take the initiative. Bringing a wide range of people with disparate ideas and experience together through the Neighbourhood Councils has proved to be a good way of achieving this. NM is basically a communication-based programme that encourages and helps to establish new forms of cooperation in the neighbourhoods, as well as communication between residents and local authorities.