Failed strategy connects Afghan fields, city streets

David EavesI really don’t give my good friend David Eaves nearly enough link-love. I’m making a conscientious effort to correct that, and now is a good time to start. He and Taylor Owen have co-written an Op Ed in the Toronto Star I recommend, “Failed strategy connects Afghan fields, city streets”:

In the coming months, under the leadership of the former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, U.S. private contractors will likely attempt to fumigate poppies in Afghanistan. Around the same time, the Canadian government will decide whether to shut down the Insite supervised injection site in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The two policies are inextricably linked and unambiguously bad.

What’s really sad in both cases is how evidence is ignored because of ideological blinders. Fumigation in Colombia failed to achieve its goal (coca production actually increased) and introduced many dangerous and immoral externalities including damaging the health and legitimate livelihoods of local people. Supervised injection sites have proven effective at harm reduction and increased access to appropriate care for addicts.

Ideologies make me sad. They often create blinders to perception, creating more heat than light. At a time when we need better perceptive capacity in an environment of accelerating change, I’d like to believe we are evolving beyond ideology. I believe that part of the disengagement of mainstream people from politics has been the failure of both left-wing and right-wing ideologies to engage their imaginations and address the realities of modern life.

But apparently, humans need ideologies to make sense of their world and their place in it. Maybe we just need new ideologies. We’re accepting nominations for emerging and relevant 21st century ideologies in the comments section. Leave a link to the relevant Wikipedia page!

Cocreating the Creative City Ignite @ DemoCamp

I delivered a Ignite version of Cocreating the Creative City to the DemoCamp community at DemoCampToronto16. View full screen on Slideshare if you want to be able to read the speaking notes.

If you aren’t familiar with the Ignite format, it is 20 slides, 5 minutes, 15 seconds per slide on an automatic timer. The format enforces quite a lot of discipline on you – and decisions about what to communicate with images, text and speaking notes are fun to play with. This was the first attempt, and I’d love to practice it some more to improve my delivery.

As a follow-up, I am challenging interested members of the DemoCamp community to take the open source code behind FixMyStreet and localize it for Toronto and the GTA. FixMyStreet is a bug tracker for city services that sits outside government control. Users identify, report and map local issues and the system forwards them onto the appropriate local authority for action and follow-up. If some developers in the community want to take this on, I will work with them to connect this to city halls across the region.