The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Start Living

Posted on June 29, 2012

All that is left is to act. The entire citizen engagement process culminates in this one moment. All the work, the humility, the learned respect of other positions, the toil, the compromise, the eventual landing on solutions – it all comes down to two key realities: will government listen, and will citizens press onward with their resolutions despite opposition should it come from their political representatives? In so many ways a community that starts out with many opinions ends up like an individual with a path ahead. A united resolve focuses the collective mind of the participants and leads them to a similar admission as that of Bella, in the Twilight Saga: “I’ve chosen my life – now I want to start living.” Ultimately…

Reconfiguring Our Future

Posted on June 27, 2012

There are only two more steps in the process of engagement that we need to consider (some will see more, others less), but for those willing to stay in conversation and deliberation mode long enough the benefits of the time spent now begin to accrue. Engagement exercises don’t just pit various views against each other; often a kind of hybrid discovery results. I have witnessed this in official peace talks on other continents as well as within my local community. It’s a fascinating phase where what we end up with is not that with which we began. Effective engagement most often sees us empathizing with others, and this, in turn, persuades us to frequently alter our own original positions in light of not just…

The Art of Connecting

Posted on June 26, 2012

Poet Robert Frost used to say, “I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.” That’s one of the great things about poetry – it registers in the minds and hearts of people even before it is understood. All who love poetry know exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t have to “get it” at first reading to be moved by it. Citizen engagement is like that. Some people attend such exercises merely to show off their intelligence, sometimes actually demonstrating the opposite. But the majority come to such gatherings with a sense of expectation, a belief that perhaps something might come of all the effort. ReThink London is like that, too. The more sessions we have,…

Dialogue of Silence

Posted on June 25, 2012

The most recent edition of National Geographic presents us with some troubling news. Around the globe, one language dies every 14 days. In the next century nearly half of the world’s languages will have disappeared. That’s startling – made even more pronounced by the fact we aren’t even aware of it. When you lose some history from memory that’s bad; lose a language and it’s over. My time in Ottawa enforced for me again and again that the language of democracy is closing in on extinction – at least in the political order. Everything seems to be about brinksmanship, bludgeoning, obscuring the real issues, and a rancid partisanship. Citizens grow sickened by it; certain political elites, here and south of the border, relish it.…

What If Citizens Led Ottawa

Posted on June 23, 2012

Note: The following is the article I wrote for the London Free Press for June 23, 2012, with the illustration by Jane. The headlines came fast and furious once Bob Rae opted to decline the chance at running for official leadership of the Liberal party. The onslaught Justin Trudeau must have felt in the hours following Rae’s decision would have been intense. London isn’t immune from the subject, given the hectic amount of questions about Trudeau’s future I’ve received in the last week. You have to say this: he has been consistent. At our house for dinner a while ago he continued to stress that his young family was his primary concern, and I, for one, accepted and respected that outlook. I have been…