Comment 496

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted May 17, 2006 at 09:58:22

Hi Adrian,

Yeah I know, it's kind of glib to just state 'Take Action' without getting into some specifics. I hope one of the RTH writers (probably not me...) will cover the topic of 'How to Affect Change' in an upcoming issue (over to you Ry...)

There are many ways to Take Action - from Direct Action, such as you suggest, to Passive Action - Protest and so on. There are books that expand on this topic all over the place... Sorry I can't be more informative!

I think the nature of activism is slowly changing - evolving. Whether it's the rise of 'free media' or a growing disillusionment with governments, I think that people are beginning to realize that they can't simply sit back and expect their elected leaders to do the right thing on their behalf, and act on their best interests.

I believe that activist groups that are able to consolidate around clear objectives and use a focused approach to fulfilling those objectives have the most chance of success.

There are many tools that we can use - most of them are already there, just waiting to be used. Take the everday actitivies at City Hall. Lawyers regularly speak on behalf of their developer clients at council meetings. Yet nobody else turns up. As a result Councilors often only get the developer representatives side of the story. The citizen next door doesn't have the time or the knowledge to prepare and deliver a well thought out presentation of counter arguments. However, we have seen on many occasions that when citizens DO speak up in this forum, councilors WILL listen. The democratic framework (another word I hate - sorry) is in place - and yes it has problems, but it's there non-the-less - all we have to do is learn how to use it, and start using it!

During the formation of a now defunct Downtown Advocates group last year, I proposed that the best way for them to promote their downtown friendly agenda, was for them to identify all the motions that might affect the core, and simply speak to council about them. I still think that by using the democratic tools we have in place is one of the best ways for us to affect change. Another way is even more obvious - build relationships. Just as Ryan and Trev and Jason and probably yourself are doing - getting to know some of the players in our political scene enables us to gain a better understanding of what their perspectives are, and where common ground can be found.

Ultimately people respond to only two things - consequences and rewards. Whatever we do to try and affect change it always comes down to: what's in it for me?

Cheers

Ben

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