One the most enjoyable parts of this book-writing journey has been conducting my research interviews. From Vancouver to St Johns, San Francisco to Boston and even a few in France, I've had the chance to speak with an incredible array of activists, journalists, students and recovering politicians.
I think my favorite interview so far, was with a fellow formerly known as Sheldon Bergson. He felt strongly that Canadians should have a None of the Above option on their ballot so, naturally, he formally changed his name to Above, Znoneofthe ...and ran for office.
His name appears at the bottom of the ballot as: ZNONE, OFTHEABOVE.
Now that's commitment. While no one else I spoke with has gone to such extraordinary lengths to make their point, each of the 113 people I've interviewed have - in their own way - proven that positive change is achievable through our own individual actions and ideas. Or, as Sheldon calls it, "The Power of Znone".
We're really excited to have Marlena Zuber on our team, creating a series of gorgeous drawings that will appear throughout the book. Here's a sneak preview of some of the pieces she's working on:Read more
One thing I'm looking at in the book, is how our cultural attachment to tradition can interfere with our ability to innovate and progress forward. You can't hold onto the past, if you want to march courageously into the future.
One of the most amusing examples of our obsessive clinging to institutional ritual, is Canada's Supreme Court robes.
This is what they actually wear, in 2016:
Aside from being ridiculously archaic, they also seem to look a heck of a lot like another very popular costume:
I've just arrived on the northeast coast of the United States!
I've got a whirlwind tour scheduled, across five states and 9 cities, searching for 100 Remedies.
Here are some of the groups and people I've arranged to meet with this week:
Ranked Choice Voting Maine • Change the Rule • Circle • Douglas Amy • Everyday Democracy • Jefferson County Open School (Denver) • North Star self-directed learning for teens • New Hampshire Rebellion • Open Democracy • Represent.us • Noam Chomsky • Stamp Stampede
Stay tuned for updates!
My search for 100 remedies has taken me to the east coast of Canada this week!
I've been watching and admiring the Springtide Collective for years. They're "an organization dedicated to reconnecting Nova Scotians with the democratic process and imagining ways of doing politics differently." Some of their inspiring work includes Open House Nova Scotia, Make Democracy Better, and pretty videos like this:
For the last couple of years, I've had the intention to get out to Halifax to visit Springtide, but life got in the way and it just never happened. Then last year I served as the Chief Electoral Officer for Samara's Everyday Political Citizen Award when Mark Coffin, the founder and president of Springtide, emerged as the clear winner. I decided right then that I'd somehow find my way out east to learn more about Springtide and their work.
So when they announced their first annual "Better Politics Awards", I bought my plane tickets right away. I'm writing this post from Stanfield International Airport, where my plane just landed, and my AirBNB palace awaits!
As with all my research visits, I'll be collecting ideas for the 100 Remedies project and the best stories, projects and experiments will end up in the book!
While I'm here I'll be interviewing Mark along with a few other local leaders, including Danny Graham (founding Chair of Engage Nova Scotia), Nancy Watson (also with Engage Nova Scotia), City Councillor Waye Mason, and others.
Stay tuned for a full report back. Sign up here to stay connected! : )
Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of visiting Calgary's "City Hall School", an inspiring education center built right into the main floor of City Hall.
While most cities offer some kind of City Hall 'tour' for kids, I've never seen anything like this program. At City Hall School, students spend an entire week learning about democracy through a customized hands-on participatory curriculum.
Over 10,000 students have participated in this unique program designed to provide "a wealth of opportunities for students and teachers to participate in the public realm, becoming informed and civically engaged citizens."
I can't imagine anything more important than giving young people the tools and confidence they need to become engaged citizens. Empowerment requires knowledge, understanding and awareness of the political systems that exist all around us.
One thing I really like about the City Hall School classroom, is the visibility. Rather than isolate the classroom in the basement or in a far off corner, City Hall School is in the main lobby of City Hall directly across the hall from the Council Chambers. The only thing that separates the students from the rest of City Hall, is a huge glass wall.Read more
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I'll be blogging here throughout 2015, writing about my research tour and updates on the book process.