That’s me, sporting my FDR t-shirt. I was incredibly excited to find this in Portland a couple of months back. FDR is one of my political icons; while he was far from perfect, his accomplishments in ushering in the New Deal, and in guiding the United States through most of World War II (he died in office in April 1945, about 4 months before the war officially ended) rank up there with any other President before or since. If he is not the greatest president, he is certainly near the top. I’ve always admired his dedication to helping everyone, especially the less fortunate, and the courage he showed in bringing in dramatic reforms to American society.
The lessons of FDR are useful now. Not only are we facing significant upheaval in our economic system, but we are a society in flux. Additionally, dissatisfaction with, and cynicism about, government run high.
If you’re concerned with any of those issues above, and live in or near Edmonton, Alberta, then you should come to Change Camp on Saturday. The idea, in a nutshell, of Change Camp is to get citizens in a room to discuss their concerns, and hopefully to come up with some ideas about how to go forward. It’s a citizen driven initiative; participants throw out topic suggestions at the beginning of the day, and “vote with their feet“, choosing sessions based on what interests them. For more specific details on the event, I suggest checking out the official website, as well as Daveberta‘s post, along with the slideshow/audio contained within.
All the above sounds great on paper, but what should we really expect? Well, that’s a good question. As a participant-driven event, most of what we get out of it will depend on what we’re willing to contribute in terms of topics and discourse about them. Don’t let the weighty slogan of “how do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?” discourage you. At the root, Change Camp is an event about bringing people together, and talking about their ideas and concerns. I picture it more “college kids in a dorm discussing the world” – informal, broad, and collaborative – than “Kingston Conference“. Sure, there will be people in attendance with a specific agenda, but I suspect most people are attending because of a general interest or concern regarding citizenship, government, and politics.
I’m not sure what to expect in terms of outcomes, but I see the process itself as being valuable. It’s the kind of get-together I suggested here (in paragraphs 6-7) needs to happen more often; citizens coming together to discuss, learn, and collaborate. One event or idea likely won’t change the world, but many in aggregate may bring about large-scale change, or plant the seeds for future changes. Change will only come about when citizens take the initiative, and get involved to bring it about. Being passive or dropping out of the system won’t get us anywhere.
If you’re interested in government and citizenship and want to connect with others who are, I hope you’ll join the 170 other citizens who have already signed up, even if it’s just to stop in for a bit.
If you do, feel free to come find me; I’d love to chat. I’ll be the guy in the FDR t-shirt.
Saturday, October 17, 2009 from 9am to 4:30pm
Registration at 8:30am
Maple Leaf Room, Lister Conference Centre, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Follow on Twitter: #yegchange
I’ll also be writing intermittently throughout the day on this site.