RealVote – my simple promise to democracy

Another election has come and gone and while voter turnout increased, the substance of the debate hit new lows. So, while my passion is at its peak, here’s my simple commitment to revive real democracy in my community for the next election.

  1. I will create a platform for people in my district to ask questions, and invite all candidates for that district to respond.
  2. I will campaign door to door to make people aware, gather questions, and share the answers for what’s been answered.
  3. The next election in my area is October 6, 2011 (Ontario)
  4. My district is London West

This is the best way I can think to fight partisanship in favour of real dialogue and engagement. We all deserve more. It’s time I took responsibility. It’s time I did something to make it happen.

This is my promise. Join me if you wish. Democracy matters.

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  • I like the simple Q and A door-to-door format! Experiments like these are great things to try.

    This one could probably use some tips on how to engage folks in a dialogue, and could also be enhanced with an offer to join a scheduled community World Cafe-style evening event. After that, some folks might want to do more intensive kinds of engagement like weekend intensive dialogues or Camps or whatnot.

    Good idea. I know the ChangeCamp London folks will be interested in it too.

    • Great ideas. I’m starting simple, committing to facilitating non-partisan dialogue and pounding the pavement in my community. Definitely welcome anyone in the community who wants to do same, and others who want to take the lead in their community. If there are enough communities, I’m sure tools and techniques can be shared.

      Community level, by the people, for the people FTW!

  • Great ideas. I’m starting simple, committing to facilitating non-partisan dialogue and pounding the pavement in my community. Definitely welcome anyone in the community who wants to do same, and others who want to take the lead in their community. If there are enough communities, I’m sure tools and techniques can be shared.

    Community level, by the people, for the people FTW!

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  • I like the idea of an issues “simplifier” – made from:
    1) Submitted issue explanations (via web page, video, or hard copy graph etc.)
    2) A community ranking of each “explanation” (+1/-1 only)

    Submitted explanations could be broken down into smaller groups for ranking like: pro, con, or simple overview; as well as explanation type (ex: video or poster). It might give people the opportunity to have issues explained simply and in their “preferred language.”

    • i like the idea of a localized issue board that the candidates could respond to.

      the real key in it though, i think, is the willingness for people to go out into their community to knock on doors and have the conversations… supported by this web service.

      would you do that in your community? honestly?

      will ask everyone that comes by on halloween if they would.

      • I would go door to door, if I had the ability to clearly address the issue in its most-understandable form to the people I was talking to. I really believe that’s where the balance resides – in delivering the information in the recipients terms.

        Perhaps that’s bringing the web-enabled issue board to them. Then establishing the connection between this real world exchange and digital knowledge sharing/transfer. Hopefully establishing this pattern (real-to-digital world) can reinforce the complementing digital-to-real world engagement too.

        I agree, engaging door to door is an essential part – because it can establish connection and appreciated effort – but I think the difficulty when my door’s been knocked has been the approach as well as follow up.

        I also think that (along Mark’s point below) that this exercise could be an interesting experiment. Would the digital issue board explanations match the same rankings as those uncovered through the door-to-door explanations. Likely not, since the issue board may generalize local trends.

        • I think too if it is a neighbour coming to the door and saying they are gathering questions to present to candidates, mentioning the availability of the resource, and also even sharing some of the answers already provided (this might be practically difficult – any trickiest to format into digestible terms), I’ll be interested to seeing what happens. Being non-partisan and neighbour to neighbour, will it lead to more openess and dialogue? Will it encourage deeper independent exploration?

          The platform too I think needs to be very localized, by riding. Could possibly enable election wide level too for party positions, but that’s more than I can take on for sure.

          Certainly open to others taking lead on platforms. I just want to get out there for the next election and have a real platform to encourage real dialogue in my community.
          … sent while mobile.

        • To expand on Denis’ thoughts, it really comes down to having an approach to introduce and frame the question. What are the words that you say to your neighbour? What is the question that you would ask? Is it framed as a political question in the context of an election or a community question in the context of civic engagement between elections?

          In big urban centres many (most?) people don’t know their neighbours (something this effort would help address), so in coming to the door cold you may as well be a pollster, a fundraiser or a campaign worker. How does one quickly establish rapport with the person behind the door so that they can engage in dialogue with a stranger?

          • Very good points. Comes back to the script and the range from home. Ideal would be to say, Hi, I’m michael, from 3 doors down. That would be key to building trust but would require a big mobilization in community. Maybe there could be some linkages with the neighbourhood watch program.

            So key items:
            – simple script
            – getting people on the streets to talk to ‘neighbours’
            – platform/tools to facilitate questions from community and answers from candidates
            – digest versions to be taken to the street

            Some key criteria
            – hyperlocal
            – dialogue in electoral districts
            – neighbourly driven

            This seem right?

            Halloween night should be a good chance to ask some neighbours. What would you ask?

            … sent while mobile.

  • I’m fortunately in a much happier place, my home city having elected a female mayor for the first time, and one whose core platform is engaging the public, having them involved in the process.

    What we have in common is the need for better tools online and offline to foster this engagement. I anticipate being quite involved with this locally, let’s keep in touch to share our experiences.

    I’ve already started with some open space and world café events under the ChangeCamp banner, as well as launching http://changesault.ca and http://ideas.changesault.ca

    • Great stuff Gerry!
      … sent while mobile.

  • Anonymous

    Just stumbled across this post; albeit a few months later then most! I think you’ve outlined a great personal manifesto that hopefully will challenge yourself and the broader community to engage in a real and tangible manner.

    I assume you’re aware of the Hack the Vote iniative? http://hackthevote.com/

    • Ya, thanks. Came across it thanks to this post. Love it. This though
      is just something simple i can do myself.

      Michael Lewkowitz
      519.200.3034