Comment 64721

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2011 at 12:22:40 in reply to Comment 64699

1) Describe how things currently look regarding citizen engagement.

People are really, really cynical. And not for bad reasons. People don't just "forget" when things go wrong. Every time they're lied to, used, or ignored by governments, media, corporations, religions, political movements etc - people are a little less likely to trust in the future.

2) How would you prefer they look?

People need places they can voice their views. For these venues to be trusted, they need to be independent. Public consultations are run by the city, for the city, and always around an agenda set by the city. Much of the same could be said for various public meetings held by parties, the media or local businesses. People don't want to be "supporters" for somebody else's agenda - they want to be active agents in their own.

Whatever organizations are set up to represent people need to actually do so. Being run by a small cabal of well-connected friends (like so many community and political organizations and "neighbourhood associations") can only get you so far and usually ends up alienating a lot of people before long. Popular engagement needs to be a barometer of success. Blaming "people" for the failures of our organizations is only a recipe for more failure.

The best model would be a network or federation. No one organization is going to be able to represent "everybody" without leaving some feeling left out. People need to be able to group together based on various kinds of affinity - geographic, trade, 'identity' etc, and these groups need a fair degree of autonomy if they're going to be able to actually connect with these communities. A wider federation could provide opportunities for delegates to meet and discuss broader issues, co-ordinate plans and mediate disputes. But again, only so far as it's actually responsible to the people involved and not the other way around.

Look at Spain right now for a good example of a popular movement talking about these ideas - and one that's spreading.

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