Comment 69658

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 10:15:25 in reply to Comment 69637

Please excuse me if I have completely misunderstood your experience and the resulting article, but it seems like you went into the GIC meeting and the NEN meeting with and agenda and a solution and learned little from what people were saying.

1) I absolutely, positively have an agenda. I want a better level of engagement, I want a better level of discourse and debate.

2) I learned a ton from what people were saying in both instances. In fact, what I learned was broadcast at a high decibel and retention level.

If we (citizens and councillors) have an information problem that is affecting the ability of our elected officials to enact long standing plans, then it means someone is changing the plan behind the scenes. If council is not aware of changes (until some late Friday e-mail or the next meeting) and citizens don't know how they came about, how is a town hall meeting going to change that?

One of the understandable reactions I've received since pushing this initiative is that people want an 'A leads directly to B' solution. And that's not what town halls are. Frankly, this solution doesn't exist. Not even if you vote in the most amazing, saviour-figure imaginable.

One town hall meeting won't change much. But I've never suggested it would. I'm talking about each ward having regular town halls. By 'regular', I mean bi-monthly, or whatever seems appropriate. And in the long run, it 'changes' things by changing the dynamic, by changing one side of this local governance formula.

Regular engagement supports transparency and accountability, two elements that even people who don't want to 'get involved' are adamant that they expect from their Council. Right now, to a great extent, Council works in isolation. Always has. But even in the simplest way, that world cannot continue, if only because of the powerful changed the medium we're connected to has effected.

Will the person responsible (staffer, manager, mayor) for the new policy actually attend the meeting?

Nobody can be mandated to attend town hall meetings. In my envisioning, these meetings are primarily developed and presented from energies generated by neighbourhood and community associations in concert with other community and media entities. But if you can accept the fact that if town halls become a part of 'standard operating procedure' then everything changes (and I understand that some can't, and moreover some won't) and included in this change is the fact that to a great extent, there'd be no choice.

Look; right now, on the 'Civic Engagement Continuum' I linked to, we're nowhere near the 'ideal, best circumstances' end. So if that's the case, and we keep coming up with all these less-than-savoury situations, why don't we give what we're proposing a try?

It's just that I have been at sea with the byzantine leadership of late and this article has shed no real light on the informational structure or how a meeting will solve it.

LOL Sorry, but at times, this cynicism is a bit too perversely funny. I was never trying to 'shed light on the informational structure'. Most of this material is on the site for all to consider at their is 'how a meeting will solve it'. This article was merely a rumination on the fact that we have two groups who are, in many ways, handicapped in similar ways. That's all.

But I do want to reiterate: I'm not talking about ONE meeting. Never have. That would be as arrogant and misguided...and yes, naïve as assuming that a floundering marriage can be 'rescued' with one counselling session. As the wise man said, 'I may have been born at night, but not last night.'

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