The decline of civil society and what it means for society

ResPublica Director Phillip Blond spoke to the Cabinet Office’s Strategy Unit on “The decline of civil society and what it means for society” focusing on the New Civic Settlement: outlining a new politics of civic association. The talk outlined ho…

ResPublica Director Phillip Blond spoke to the Cabinet Office’s Strategy Unit on “The decline of civil society and what it means for society” focusing on the New Civic Settlement: outlining a new politics of civic association. The talk outlined how civic society has been eroded, and what we can do to rebuild it and how a reconstituted associative culture can help solve public policy problems which neither the state nor the market have the ability to solve.

To hear his speech please click on the following link: The Cabinet Office

Downloadable version:

Phillip Blond’s thinking interests me. A lot.

Remembering David Pecaut and his love of Toronto

As I look at the future of Toronto, I am as excited as I have ever been about what the 5 million people here have to offer the world. To me the potential of Toronto lies not so much within its architectural or economic or social possibilities as i…

As I look at the future of Toronto, I am as excited as I have ever been about what the 5 million people here have to offer the world. To me the potential of Toronto lies not so much within its architectural or economic or social possibilities as in what it could represent to the world as a place where amazing things get done because this city is full of conveners, of civic entrepreneurs, of people who understand in their collective DNA how to bring all the parts of civil society around a table to solve problems, seize opportunities, and make great things happen.

It is this capacity of social mobilization that can be Toronto’s greatest gift to the world. We should stop worrying about global rankings and focus on what will make us truly special – which is that we can be the best in the world at collective leadership.

We can be a city where collective leadership is the norm. A city where civic entrepreneurs are everywhere and the process of bringing all the parts of civil society together to solve a problem is really how the city defines its uniqueness – a city where this quality is the essence of what makes Toronto so special.

In that sense, Toronto’s gift to the world could be this unique and powerful model of city building that comes from collective leadership.

This letter, published by Spacing shortly after his death, is must-read.

I feel myself profoundly saddened by David Pecaut’s passing, a man I never had the opportunity to meet but who has been described as “the best mayor Toronto never had”. His impact and his legacy is very much alive. My thoughts today go to all of those who are feeling his profound absence today and in the days to come. Now the work begins.

Toronto queers use Twitter to organize for social change

Reposted from Xtra.ca. Queers and beers has been an age-old model for social events in the gay community, but now, it’s also a group phenomenon sweeping Toronto Twitter users. Born in June 2009, Twitter group Queers and Beers started as a way to b…

Reposted from Xtra.ca.

Queers and beers has been an age-old model for social events in the gay community, but now, it’s also a group phenomenon sweeping Toronto Twitter users.

Born in June 2009, Twitter group Queers and Beers started as a way to bring together tech-savvy queer folk and their supporters to discuss social issues.

Local public relations entrepreneur Jaime Woo conceived the group in order to harness the power of social media to unite a community.

“It’s about finding people with the same passion as you do and using technology so the queer community can get their message out and define their role in the tech world,” says Woo.

With the fast-paced lifestyle of many Torontonians, it can be difficult to set aside a moment to consider social issues facing the world.

“I think this is a fun way for people to come together and think about good causes,” says Woo.

The group has already had three real-life meet-ups and will hold its fourth this coming Tue, Sep 29 at a backyard barbecue.

Each event takes place in a different space in order to spur different states of mind. The goal of the get-togethers is to stimulate different conversations, connections and to draw out different types of people.

 

Justin Stayshyn, a Queers and Beers member and emerging social media consultant, says that the group is as important online as offline.

“Twitter is about relationships and conversations. It’s revolutionary to share information with people and knowing them in real life strengthens that connection,” a link, Stayshyn says, that was missing before within the gay community.
The next meet-up will focus on issues surrounding queer homeless youth, a topic that may inspire some members to be proactive and pick a new pet cause, says Woo.
The group is now approximately 25 members strong and gains momentum through word of mouth and wireless waves. Woo says the crowd grows after each event through the flurry of social media messaging.
“There are definite benefits and obstacles to using social media, but in this case it was the fastest way to bring together a group of 20 people who were all passionate about the same thing,” says Woo.
He says he came up with the idea and within a week, the first meet-up was held thanks to the viral nature of Twitter.
As much as people say the internet is killing real-life interaction, others still disagree.
“I often have to battle against this notion that Twitter is about technology for technology’s sake, but it really isn’t,” says Mark Kuznicki, a Toronto-based social media expert and self-proclaimed change agent. “It’s about how technology can be used to make us human again.”
People now have a platform to connect in a way that spans beyond being categorized by their superficial attributes, and they are redefined through shared interests, he says.
While the bar scene continues to thrive, it is not necessarily the easiest place for gay people to find kindred spirits since it is often the luck of the draw.
“The traditional bar scene contains really coarse broad categories that we get slotted within in the community and people are more complicated than that,” says Kuznicki.
Social media, Kuznicki says, helps to break down limiting barriers and allows people to connect around things that they are passionate about, which takes some of the guesswork out of meeting new people.
Twitter is an arena that embraces an open network concept, whereas other social media sites such as Facebook, focus on a pre-existing network of friends. It’s “more about people that you should meet in the future,” says Kuznicki.
A future that Queers and Beers is changing, in 140 characters or less at a time.

For more info, follow the
#queersandbeers discussion on Twitter or join the group’s Facebook Page. The next event is Tue, Sep 29.

Social Web, Social Change and the Return of Community

I thought I would finally share the slides from my recent talk at the Ottawa Social Media Breakfast. Thanks to Robin Browne for capturing the audio MP3 which I sync’d to the Slidecast below. Enjoy!

Ottawa Social Media Breakfast, May 6th

For those in the Ottawa area, I will be speaking at Social Media Breakfast Ottawa 9 on Wednesday, May 6th. Thanks to Simon Chen and Mark Faul for inviting me to Ottawa in the lead-up to ChangeCamp Ottawa on Saturday, May 16th.

smbottawaknifefork

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend ChangeCamp Ottawa (the first ChangeCamp since we created the format in January) myself, due to the inevitable post-event exhaustion (and likely hangover) from organizing the SpinTO fundraising launch event on Friday, May 15th. The stars just weren’t aligned for this one. But no matter, because Mark Faul, Ian Capstick and many other great Ottawa folks have been doing a great job with minimal advice from me. Which is perfect for me and shows that the model can scale and propagate.

For those who are able to come to the Ottawa SMB, here’s a little preview of what I’ll be talking about:

Social Web, Social Change & the Return of Community.

The social web is making possible new and exciting capabilities, new ways of participating in a global conversation. However, often those interested in social media and online community leave something very important, and very human, behind: our need for face-to-face interaction, to meet people around our shared passions and to have an impact, to create meaning.  Drawing from his work creating hybrid online and face-to-face participatory experiences, Toronto-based ChangeCamp organizer and consultant Mark Kuznicki will outline some theory and practice about how the social web meets physical community.