I’ve been involved with ChangeCamp Edmonton for a while and I figured it’s time to talk about why I’m involved in ChangeCamp.
The idea behind ChangeCamp is “How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?”
This is also on the ChangeCamp Edmonton site: “ChangeCamp addresses the demand for a renewed relationship among citizens and government. We seek to create connections, knowledge, tools and policies that drive transparency, civic engagement and democratic empowerment.”
I think those both capture it fairly well, but I feel like I need to inject a bit of my vision, for what it’s worth. This is why I’m involved and this is my view, not necessarily the view of others who are involved in ChangeCamp.
I’m participating in publicizing the event and trying to get various interest groups and interested parties out to the event. It’s a time consuming task to contact all the groups who really should be represented there and who would have a strong interest in what’s going on.
In some ways it reads like a “who’s who” or “the usual suspects,” depending on your point of view. I’m not saying it’s going to be an elitist event where you have to be “in the know” to be able to attend. That’s not the intention of anyone involved, and I wouldn’t want that perception to be out there either.
Value in diversity of opinion
What I would like to see is a good mix of the population represented at ChangeCamp Edmonton, from the business community right down to those living in poverty. I think ChangeCamp needs a broad cross section of the community to talk about the issues around governing, accountability, transparency and citizen engagement.
Let’s be honest. We are far from having truly accountable and transparent government at any level in Canada, no matter what the party. Citizen engagement is something most politicians seem only to consider up to and including election time. After that? Well, it depends on the politician.
I know the types of people who will show up to ChangeCamp for sure. They’re the same ones that show up for so many of these kinds of events. They’re the type of people who are interested and engaged in what’s happening in our society, and I thank them deeply for that.
The people who are not as likely to be represented at ChangeCamp Edmonton are those who are disenfranchised, poor, frustrated with the system, marginalized, haven’t voted in a long time, have never voted, new to Canada or just plain pissed off.
These are the people, in addition to the rest, that I would really like to see attending ChangeCamp. These are the people that, if they got involved in the political system, have an incredible amount of political power and ability to change things. For a variety of reasons, they’re not represented.
I don’t see ChangeCamp as an advocacy group and it’s not. There are people from across the political spectrum involved. I see it more as a group trying to facilitate a discussion among this country’s citizens to see how we can make government into something that works better for everyone.
Frustrated with politics? Come out to ChangeCamp. Got friends who feels the same way? Bring them too.
I’m not expecting to change the world in one day, but it’s a first step. It’ll be your opportunity to get out and interact with people who are also interested in changing politics, making government more accountable, transparent and increasing civic engagement and voter participation.
I am hoping to see some of our MPs, Alberta MLAs and Edmonton city councillors in the room to participate in the discussion.
Please take the time to attend. It’s important to have your contribution to the process and to have an open, honest, civil discussion about our political system and how to make it better. It’s an “unconference” format where you help to decide on the topics that will be discussed. Perhaps you’d like to help out by leading a discussion on a topic?
There have been other ChangeCamps in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
October 17, 2009 Saturday
Lister Conference Centre – Maple Leaf Room, University of Alberta
Lunch will be provided.
You can get involved by signing up to the Facebook ChangeCamp page.
Or register right at the ChangeCamp Edmonton registration page.