Dear Carol Goar and Susan Delacourt:
Loved your pieces on political spin and the need to try something different! We're on the same page, as you'll see in a moment; first let me make it clear why it is I'm writing to you:
I know what that "something different" looks like and I can tell you, it's pretty cool.
But you deserve to know why you should trust me on this. After all, I'm not a top political organizer; nobody pays me big bucks to do presentations, nor am I on any politician's speed dial. I'm just a social entrepreneur, bringing people together to build something greater than the sum of its parts.
I'm not overly fond of tooting my own horn (which probably explains a few things) so I hope you'll indulge me if I use an anecdote to shed light on what it is I offer:
I was out for coffee with an old Queen's Park friend yesterday when the topic of mental health came up. With a wide-eyed look, she recalled a chat we'd had three years ago where I suggested mental health (specifically in how it relates to cognitive labour, political engagement and how it's mirrored in the growth of online platforms like e-government) was going to be a hot topic in short order. She'd given me the verbal equivalent of a pat on the head and politely told me to keep dreaming.
She wasn't the only one.
At the same time I doing rounds of major and minor Government Relations firms, explaining to them how the broader social application of mental health was soon to be a big deal and that, if they started laying track early, they could get ahead of the curve in both creating shared solutions and leading their competitors. None of them could see the emerging picture; every last one of them told me they didn't see where the Return on Investment could be; they encouraged me to give up the pursuit and focus on something more tangible.
Today, my friend can't escape mental health as a topic - The Agenda is dedicating time to mental health, the Economic Club of Canada is exploring the critical impact of mental health on the economy, the Federal government has implemented voluntary Psychological Health and Safety Workplace Standards.
My friend was less politely condescending yesterday. Instead, she asked: "How did you know?"
End of anecdote. Now, here's an example of where our thought processes align:
“When 40 per cent of the population isn’t voting, the results are wildly unrepresentative of the people,” he acknowledged. “But we don’t know what the driver of that is.”
WAKATA: Tragedy of the House of Commons
If it is true that the communications pros and advertisers have taken over politics, I am intrigued by how they have failed to come up with new ideas in the business of explaining politics and government to the public.
WAKATA: Political Delusion
So maybe it is time for the pros to come up with some new ideas, a spark or two of creativity and yes, maybe even a few laughs.
WAKATA: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty brought value add to his last campaign with a brilliant Bollywood-styled rally that delivered on his themes of diversity, strength and moving forward together while also wooing target audiences and creating a memorable experience for the province. and The Best Consultants Are Yet To Come and The Party That Listens
There’s an obvious reply, I guess, to this complaint about no new ideas in political spin. Creativity is risky, and politics can be remarkably risk-averse.
It’s not just Liberal-leader-to-be Justin Trudeau, either, and his advocacy of Wilfrid Laurier’s “sunny ways.”
WAKATA: by fully letting go of the methodology of a Stephen Harper or a Tim Hudak or even a Thomas Mulcair, other avenues will reveal themselves to you.
And my favourite:
The session that most intrigues me, though, is on the “electoral alchemy” of political advertising, communication and spin.
WAKATA: Political alchemy (converting the staunchest of conservatives into progressives) is a tougher challenge requiring a greater dedication of self - but it is possible.
As you can see, I've spent some time thinking about the issues that sparked the Spur Festival, both directly and indirectly. There's a lot of material, to be sure; the reach of your pyramid is limited to the size of your base. I feel this depth has given me some pretty good perspective on what comes next; given my past experience I'm pretty confident in that insight, too.
If I've learned anything, though, it's that you can't force people to connect the dots; fear and anger can be forced, but hope has to emerge from within. The best one can do is open the door. It's kinda why the quick and easy path of political attacks dominate the field.
There is much to be hopeful about in the picture that's emerging; many of the challenges we're hung up on will in fact turn out to be powerful opportunities for growth and innovation. We three could have a fascinating but challenging conversation about this that would benefit both of us.
I could give you a call but I can't force you to answer, so we'll leave it at this - whenever you're ready, I'm not hard to find.
Apologies to Susan - I opened her link, read her piece and then immediately started looking for additional pieces. Because the idea that got me thinking was tied to Carol's name and I wanted to whip this off before a meeting, I missed a significant detail.
Lesson learned! It just goes to show why taking the time to study the broader context is so important.
@SusanDelacourt @SpurFest here's an open response to the Twitter-shy Ms. Goar: http://cce-wakata.blogspot.ca/2013/04/carol-goar-we-should-talk.html … there's a fascinating convo to be had!