Research Tour

How are citizens and communities reclaiming their democracy, boosting engagement, dismantling barriers, and creating a voice for those who are marginalized?

I've got lots of personal ideas and proposals about how we can fix our broken political culture. But I'm just one person! The strength of this book is that I'm crowd-sourcing the 100 remedies - from you.

Not only that, but I want to tell the story of each remedy through the voices of those who are advocating for it, those who have implemented it and those who are most affected by it.

For participatory budgets, I'll visit New York and Chicago. For Neighbourhood Councils I'll visit LA. I'll study ranked ballots in Minneapolis, the City Hall School in Calgary and the Citizen's Academy in Lake Tahoe!

If you have any suggestions for my research tour, please contribute your ideas on the Remedies page!

Here's a quick look at where I've been so far:

 

June 10-12, 2015 • New England          
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freeport-downeaster-train.jpgThis whirlwind tour took me through four states by plane, train, bus and car.  Meeting Noam Chomsky was definitely a highlight, as well as all the amazing students at North Star Teens and Jefferson County Open School.  I got my own souvenir stamp from Stamp Stampede, learned a tonne about civics education at CIRCLE and met with some inspiring leaders at Represent.US, Change The Rule, Everyday Democracy and RCV Maine. 


June 10-12, 2015 • Edmonton, Alberta

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I spent three days in Edmonton talking to a whole range of activist, academics and community leaders.  The two highlights of my trip were the Community League Showcase and the City Hall School Citizenship Fair.

The Springtide Better Politics Awards are a celebration of people who are making a positive impact on the state of democracy in Nova Scotia. Through their actions as politicians, public figures and community leaders, the individuals we celebrate fill us with hope for the future of politics and democracy in Nova Scotia. - See more at: http://www.springtidecollective.ca/betterpolitics/#event-description
The Springtide Better Politics Awards are a celebration of people who are making a positive impact on the state of democracy in Nova Scotia. Through their actions as politicians, public figures and community leaders, the individuals we celebrate fill us with hope for the future of politics and democracy in Nova Scotia. - See more at: http://www.springtidecollective.ca/betterpolitics/#event-description

February 5/6, 2015 9th Annual Voting + Elections Summit (Washington, DC)

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Organised by the U.S. and Overseas Vote Foundation, FairVote, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the  summit will "examine the profound and persistent issues surrounding U.S. voter participation, engagement in our democracy, and what we can do about it."

I'm spending two full days at the conference and I'm also connecting with some other local groups, like the Sunlight Foundation, Scenic America, and "Why Tuesday?"!

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 January 26 2015 • Edmonton City Hall School and Centre for Public Involvement

This was a whirlwind Alberta tour visit!  I spent a day at the Calgary City Hall School (my THIRD visit), and then spent a couple of days in Edmonton, including a visit to their City Hall School and a lunch with Fiona Cavanagh from the Centre for Public Involvement!   I also spoke at a conference about Civic Engagement, organised by local City Councillors Ben Henderson and Michael Walters.

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 January 21 2015 • Better Politics Awards Dinner (Halifax, Nova Scotia) 

Organised by the Springtide Collective, the awards are "a celebration of people who are making a positive impact on the state of democracy in Nova Scotia. Through their actions as politicians,  public figures and community leaders,  the individuals we celebrate fill us with hope for the future of politics and democracy in Nova Scotia."

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December 10 2014 • Ten Year Anniversary Dinner of the British Columbia Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform. (Vancouver, British Columbia)  

This group of randomly selected citzens recommended a system of proportional representation called "Single Transferable Vote".  BC held two rererenda on the proposal, in 2005 and 2009. 58% of voters approved the change in 2005. Sadly, they needed 60% to win. In 2009, I served as the Director of Field Organisation for the Yes BC-STV campaign.


 December 8 2014 • City Hall School (Calgary, Alberta)

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This was my second visit.  I love this place.  Each time I learn more and realise just how deep this place impacts the students, the teachers, the parents and all the politicians and civil servavnts who work at City Hall. Here's a blog post I wrote about this visit.


 May 2014 • Scenic Nevada

SN_logo_website1.jpgScenic America is a network of public space advocates all the across the USA (and now in Canada too!).  I'm hoping to visit a few chapters this year, and my first was in Reno Nevada!  I had a great time chatting with some of the board members.  Billboard companies are piranhas.  Without groups like Scenic America, our public spaces would be completely wallpapered with commercial messages. Thank you!


May 2014 • Los Angeles Department of Neighbourhood Empowerment

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The Department of Neighbourhood Empowerment (also known as DONE, or EmpowerLA) is a local government department that oversees and supports 90 elected Neighbourhood Councils across LA.  I spent one week there, meeting with both city staff and Neighbourhood Council members.


 PBNYC_logo.jpgMarch 2014 • Brooklyn: Participatory budgeting

I've researched and written about participatory budgets before, but this was my first time seeing it in action.  I visited a public voting location for NYC's Participatory Budget process and spoke with some of the residents who were involved.  I'm hoping to go back again this year, and see more of the process!


 November 2013 • Minneapolis: Ranked ballot election

 I've been advocating for ranked ballots in Toronto for years, but I'd never actually witnessed a ranked ballot election until 2013.  Three of us drove (13 hours!) to Minneapolis and spent an entire week on the ground, talking to voters, candidates, elected politicians and journalists.  Here's a short video I made from the trip:


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