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?

Ignite Toronto 3: Digerati Throwdown

via vimeo.com

My ChangeCamp talk at Ignite Toronto 3 is online. My apologies if it’s a bit rough around the edges.
If you’re not familiar with the Ignite format, it is 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide, with the slides changing on a timer outside the speaker’s control. It’s hard to keep up to, but a fun and challenging format to distill ideas into intense 5 minute nuggets.

It’s a fun evening of community sharing ideas. I’ve also incorporated the format into full day unconferences as a way to prime the pump of ideas and get the day off to a high energy start.

Open Space, Social Media and Open Data

This video of a talk I gave at the wonderful Reboot conference in Copenhagen in June 2009. I’ve delivered different versions of this talk at a number of venues, and I think it’s the best synthesis of the theory of change that is the foundation of the work of the ChangeCamp project and community. I also think it needs a lot of work, but that’s life.

Check out this struggle for community engagement with local parks supervisors in Dufferin Grove #VoteTO #ChangeCampTO

For the last fifteen years, various community members have been working with city staff to build Dufferin Grove Park into a lively community commons. In the past year, this effort has come under sustained attack by Parks, Forestry and Recreation m…

For the last fifteen years, various community members have been working with city staff to build Dufferin Grove Park into a lively community commons. In the past year, this effort has come under sustained attack by Parks, Forestry and Recreation management. The front-line staff at the park have been warned that their community connections put them into a situation of conflict of interest, and last week we heard that the long-time Ward 18 recreation supervisor will be removed from this ward. We believe that his transfer to a back office at Metro Hall to work with building cleaners is a punishment for his support of our efforts, and is also meant to send a message to his colleagues.

Have a read of the full letter and response. The reports of Parks & Rec’s attitude of homogeneity and bureaucratic central control over creativity and community collaboration is symptomatic of the industrial age approach to services delivery. Standardization is seen as more efficient. Separation of professionals from stakeholders is seen as a more responsible approach to governance.

What is being lost is the public value of what parks and public spaces are for. The park is not a set of services, it is a space for community. Community is composed of the connections between people and emerges in spaces for individual and community self-expression. By instructing supervisors to be obedient to the Corporation first and seeing community connections as a conflict of interest, this organization may be damaging the very thing it is intended to promote.

If true, and it seems entirely plausible to be true, this cynical approach to the management of public resources is shameful and short-sighted.

Join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=314791346519

Why Come To TVO’s #AgendaCamp? (and #ChangeCamp)

via youtube.com The AgendaCamp model evolved since last year, incorporating both open space and world cafe methods into a new hybrid, designed to help create a broadcast of The Agenda with Steve Paikin the night following the Camp. Great testimoni…


via youtube.com
The AgendaCamp model evolved since last year, incorporating both open space and world cafe methods into a new hybrid, designed to help create a broadcast of The Agenda with Steve Paikin the night following the Camp. Great testimonials.