The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Mayors: Citizens are the Mayor

Posted on September 30, 2014

SO FAR, I’VE RESEARCHED OVER 30 MAYORS from around the world for this series of posts and I’ve been surprised at how diversified they were when they first came to office. Almost half of them come from the educational or non-profit sector, with many of that group championing human rights and citizen engagement. Then there were billionaire businessmen, like New York’s Michael Bloomberg, who have left their mark. We continue to hear that mayoralty candidates require business experience, but it intriguing to note how many of the most successful mayors come from other sectors. Like Park Won-Soon, the mayor of Seoul, South Korea, who was first elected in 2011. Emerging from humble origins, he nevertheless ended up graduating from both Harvard and Stanford Universities,…

Mayors: City of Hope

Posted on September 25, 2014

IT’S A PRETTY INCREDIBLE THING TO SPEND 23 DAYS in jail for civil disobedience and also win an award as “India’s best politician,” but that’s just what Sheila Dikshit of Delhi has achieved – just one of many remarkable exploits of an accomplished life. One of only a few women mayors in large cities around the globe, she remains a force to be reckoned with and a politician of decision. Quite simply, she’s had it with the way women and girls have traditionally been treated in India, but sees the issue as merely part of a larger lack of political will to combat poverty and class tensions. To raise the profile of such issues, she became a member of the Indian delegation to the…

Mayors: You Say You Want A Revolution?

Posted on September 24, 2014

DOES IT TAKE STRONG DOSES OF COURAGE TO OCCUPY the position of mayor? One wouldn’t think so at the civic level, and yet politics has changed significantly enough that mayors attempting to take their cities along a more successful path must oppose powerful influences that have stood as obstacles to any new direction. Last week I watched the entire Ken Burns’ seven-part series on the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. It was remarkable in the telling. All three came from generational wealth and could have spent their lifetimes plying their investments and overseeing their small empires. Instead they believed that their financial security required that they expended their lifetimes cultivating the public good, and their chief vehicle for ensuring…

What the Morning Never Suspected

Posted on September 23, 2014

WE ALL REGARD BEAUTY DIFFERENTLY, EACH OF US with our own interpretation of it. My own definition of it hasn’t altered much over the years, but it has definitely deepened. Much of my early life was spent in the Rocky Mountains – a vista spectacular enough to remain embedded in the mind and memory for a lifetime. It was likely there that I came to understand beauty as symmetry – a balancing of numerous factors that ultimately inspires the soul, transcends the mind, and creates its own desire for pursuit. All this is just a prologue to my wife Jane’s 50th birthday today. She is beautiful in her own right, but it’s the way that her life and actions are so poignantly balanced that…

Mayors: A Culture of Respect

Posted on September 19, 2014

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT A MAYOR WHO ACTUALLY FIGHTS against senior levels of government in order to get a fair deal for a city? Palermo, Sicily, has just such a champion and his efforts are showing effect. Leoluca Orlando began years ago by rescuing Palermo from the clutches of the Mafia at great risk to himself and his family – death threats were common. In fact, it was so bad that the local media labeled him “the walking corpse,” in anticipation of his assassination. Nevertheless he prevailed, reforming portions of the national justice system in the process. He then undertook what he called the “second wheel” of his platform – engaging and empowering the citizenry of the city to organize and move forward with…