The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “citizen engagement

Democratic Recession

Posted on February 24, 2015

  WHEN THOMAS FRIEDMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES recently drew attention to the 2006-2014 Freedom House finding that democracy is declining worldwide, it likely not to many were surprised. Places like Turkey, Russia, along with various countries in Africa and Asia, appear to have lost the handle on democratic progress that they possessed a mere decade ago. But when the report circled back on the affluent West, it didn’t mince its words: “Perhaps the most worrisome dimension of the democratic failure has been the decline of democratic efficiency, energy and self-confidence in the West at large. After years of hyperpolarization, deadlock, and corruption through campaign financing … things have become increasingly dysfunctional.” No surprise here either. An economic recession is often described as a…

Making History Without Knowing It

Posted on December 9, 2014

ROSA PARKS ADMITTED THAT SHE WAS TIRED on that particular morning as she shuffled off to the bus stop and began a journey that was about to form part of the seminal beginning of the civil rights movement. As procedure demanded, she entered the front of the bus, paid for her ticket, then exited to the outside and re-entered through the back door to the black section. Realizing the white section was filled, the bus driver ordered Ms. Parks to give up her seat to a white passenger. We all know what happened next and the movement her refusal helped to launch. Her own simple account of that day is still inspiring: “I had no idea history was being made. I was just tired of…

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,…

Cup-a’ Community

Posted on January 27, 2014

SOME OF MY GREATEST MOMENTS HAPPENED THERE.  When the Little Red Roaster coffee shop closed up for good this past weekend, I realized that the journey of my life in the past 18 years could be traced through the hundreds of meetings I had in that little coffee shop over the years. I remember when I took my Sudanese kids there for their very first hot chocolate.  They didn’t know English very well, but the sheer delight on their faces as their taste buds relished the chocolate and whipping cream could be translated into any language.  I ended up buying them two each.  Everyone in the coffee shop that day knew of their story and gathered around in celebration.  It was my kid’s first…

We Get What We Vote For

Posted on November 20, 2013

    “When a tree falls,” says author Jocelyn Murray, “it resounds with a thundering crash; and yet a whole forest grows in silence.”  That is what has been happening with the ongoing saga of Rob Ford these days, and it’s a troubling portend, not just of political corruption, but of citizen ambivalence. There is something so remarkably foolish about it all.  Those from the Right side of the political spectrum have remained largely silent because … well, he’s been one of their poster boys.  And those on the Center/Left have piled it on, reminding everyone they could concerning the sheer moral depravity of the man. But it is the citizenry that appears surprisingly mute – not in the coffee shops or other social…

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