Engagement

Apathy bothers me. Apathy isn’t just not showing up on Election Day. Apathy is indifference or silence in the face of our challenges. People need to use their voices to make a better London (or whatever city you happen to live in).

After trying a couple of other things (two ChangeCamps and one voter mobilization initiative called Hack the Vote) I’ve come to believe that regular events and an ongoing dialogue is likely the best way to get people activated and keep them activated. Whether this works or not is yet to be seen.

So I’m a cheerleader for Citizen Engagement. I define that as the interaction between citizens and the bureaucracy/politicians that determine the shape of the city that we inhabit.

You never know what someone will care about. Some people will care about public spaces, some about soccer fields, some will care about music on patios, food trucks, off-leash dog parks, street repair, snow ploughs, etc, etc, etc.

Occasionally when I don’t engage somebody on a topic I get something like this: “I thought you were Mr.Engagement?” Or “I guess you’re all talk when it comes to engagement”.

Here’s the thing, I don’t expect people to care about all the things that I care about and people shouldn’t expect me to care about the things that they care about.

The fact that I’m encouraging citizens to talk to city staff, their councillor and mayor in no way obliges me to interact with everyone about any given topic that they think is interesting or important to them. It doesn’t mean that what they care about isn’t terribly important, just that I have no time or energy for it. We cannot care deeply about everything after all.

Our time on this planet is limited. Find something to care about and care deeply for it. If you ‘re lucky and you look hard enough you will find a community of people who will care along with you. In the end maybe you’ll change a couple of people along the way and that’s a pretty awesome thing.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead.