My comment to John Tory’s post at The Star #YourCityMyCity

Mr. Tory, thank you for taking on this important question about the state of our public discourse. I share your concerns. I believe that if we wait for our politicians to change, then we will be waiting a long time. I second your call for citizens…

Mr. Tory, thank you for taking on this important question about the state of our public discourse. I share your concerns. I believe that if we wait for our politicians to change, then we will be waiting a long time. I second your call for citizens to ENGAGE EACH OTHER, and by doing so, to shift the context within which our politicians do their work.

In our communities and neighbourhoods, we are too often separated. Politeness in Toronto has all too often meant disengagement with each other, respect made easy by social distance. Our problems and their possible solutions have become increasingly complex, intertwined and dependent upon each other, but our governments, our politics and our social norms have worked to keep us apart and unaware of each other. So how will we change the conversation we have about this city we share?

I believe that we have methods and technologies to help change this. We can democratize the process of public dialogue. We can enable citizens to host each other in meaningful conversations. We can connect those conversations and those people to one another across time and space in a vast and diverse city.

In a city as large and diverse as Toronto, we need to become leaders in the world in terms our ability as a society to engage one another meaningfully. This requires a new kind of civic leadership, where citizens take ownership and initiative to convene their neighbours in important conversations about our shared future.

Thank you for raising this issue and opportunity. The ChangeCamp community is working to take up your challenge. We are working to develop a toolkit and program for citizen-led civic engagement in the weeks leading up to the October elections and beyond, and we would welcome your active participation in the project.

I think the ChangeCamp community and project could have a strong potential ally in Mr. Tory and the Toronto City Summit Alliance. What do you think?

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