The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “civil society

Elections: Social Media Gets It Right When We Use It Right

Posted on October 16, 2018

Technology and elections have gone hand in hand for a long time and it hasn’t always been a comfortable fit.  When radio and television came along, so did the opportunity to put image in front of substance.  Voting machines, while quicker, became known for glitches, recounts, and recounts and hanging chads. But nothing – nothing – has confounded politics and elections the way that social media has in the last decade.  Rather than putting more meaning and information into the process, platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter have front-end loaded misinformation, hackers, trolls, “fake news” and even the commercialization of privacy. Perhaps the worst of it all is that none of us feel we can do anything about it.  Facebook and Twitter especially…

Hope Will Return

Posted on March 4, 2018

Spring is coming, and with it the annual sense of renewal – for us and the world.  The problem is that we all too frequently look at what’s going on around us and don’t like much of what we see – poverty, selfishness, rampant consumerism, a distant government, even a frustrating dysfunction in our own communities. In his book The Art of the Impossible, Vaclav Havel makes some telling observations on where the true fault lies for much of our collective malaise.  In a word, it is us.  We all too frequently accept the troubled world as it is, waiting for others to solve our problems, instead of understanding that we are the present world’s caretakers and bear much responsibility for the current troubles.…

Cities – Our Future Battleground

Posted on March 1, 2018

Whatever the future holds, the fate of humanity will be played out in our cities. Seem far-fetched?  It shouldn’t.  This much we know.  In the next 100 years, the greatest migration to cities around the world will occur, with some 7-8 billion people becoming urbanites – more than exist on earth right now.  Nothing in history matches this.  Most of this vast movement will take place in developing nations, but the cities of the West won’t be able to escape the remarkable challenges and opportunities that come from this phenomenon. When you think about the greatest challenges facing us at present, they have been emerging mostly in our urban centers for a half a century or more.  Climate change, poverty, wealth creation, jobs, unemployment,…

Millennials Seek New Way to Effect Change

Posted on February 10, 2018

Like many other mid-sized cities, London is dealing with a difference in generational attitudes — value distinctions that affect everything from public transportation to employment, locally grown food, neighbourhoods and politics. To date, the friction generated among demographic groups is largely unresolved and that reality partly explains why so many citizens feel frustrated at our collective dysfunction. Neither our politics nor our civil society has succeeded in creating a shared vision. Research increasingly shows how millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) approach community life differently than the generations that preceded them. A recent Deloitte survey found millennials believe businesses should focus more on people than profits, are politically independent and distrustful of partisanship, and are far more inclined to use public transit than…

Public Places Shape Civil Society

Posted on January 31, 2018

He called it “the Third Place,” and though most haven’t heard of it, the name has remained an intriguing part of the vision many community activists have for our quality of life. Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, in his book Celebrating the Third Place (2000), tried to imagine what our communities would look like without all the coffee shops, bars, stores, parks, streets, celebrations, gardens and neighbourhood stores that serve as casual intersections where citizens cross paths. His conclusion? They simply wouldn’t function as effective living spaces. Oldenburg identified “third places” as those locations where the public meets between the “first place” (home) and the “second place” (work). They have existed in every community for centuries, though some observers worry that, with ever-expanding suburbia, third…

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