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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Forget Moonshot - Let's talk Boss Fights: #WOW meet #OpenGov

What Melissa is talking about here is brainstorming, solution-building at a scale that has here-to-for been impossible.  

At least, that's the case when government uses new tools in old ways, Plato's Desktop-style.

Which is why World of Warcraft is so interesting.  Forget moontshots - maybe what we need to do is look at Wicked Problems as boss fights, the big challenges we need to marshal our resources to beat but, when we do, new worlds of engagement opportunities open up for us.

Make Web Not War is already a thing - what would you call a World of Open that has a better acronym than "WoO?"  Me, I'm still a fan of Community of Civic Engagement.  

Monday 22 June 2015


 - Irwin Cotler

What is justice?

Is it punishment for crimes or sins committed?  Is it an eye for an eye?

Is justice something external, imposed by a court or a king?

Should justice be equal for all?  Should justice be focused on individual acts, or on broader context?

There is no justice in this world, as per the Littlefinger above.  There's no justice in the same way that there's no true "perfect", no examples of "zero", no black-and-white right and wrong.  These concepts are all human constructs that we have imposed upon this world.  When a lion kills prey, there is no justice; there is survival.  When a cuckoo bird steals a nest, there's no justice - only competition.

We tend to view justice through narrow lenses - our own perspective, how it relates to our family, or from the frame of "our people," whether it's a religion, an ethnicity, a nationality or a political party.

Justice has become a zero-sum game that profits those with power and entitlement more than anyone else.  How many scandals have emerged of powerful, wealthy people committing wrongs - misusing public money, bullying their staff, committing sexual assault - with little in the way of meaningful punishment for the perpetrator?  Is it assumed that a public shaming and the (often wilful) giving up of position, if not notoriety, counts as justice for them?

Meanwhile, how many youth are stopped and carded for nothing more than the colour of their skin? How many racialized youth are ticketed for minor crimes like speeding where peers of a different ethnic background are merely chastized?

Political centralization has resulted in less direct connectivity between people and their representatives.  Laissez-faire capitalism has quietly closed the door to anyone who can't aggressively hustle, regardless of what they have to offer.  Despite all the talk about breaking down social silos, the walls are growing taller.

Yet there is a movement out there that takes the wisdom of Irwin Cotler's mother to heart.  Justice is not something seized, with the responsibility for justice lying on the shoulders of those who feel wronged; it is a social construct, something that only exists when we build and maintain it together.

Justice is an idea, a human ideal, a belief that we are more than the sum of our individual parts and that civilization requires give and take from everyone.  The more power you have, the more responsible you become - but that's not a burden, that's a gift.  One that brings its own rewards.

Empower your employees and you build loyalty, increase productivity and build brand and market share; empower your community, and you have safety, peer support and resiliency to whatever the world throws your way.  Pride of community also results in better maintenance of both private and personal space.  Your infrastructure lasts longer.

When we put selfish interests first, those who are more competitive win and those who aren't, for whatever reason, lose.  That's not justice, but that's how society has chosen to operate.  Our silo walls blind us to the structural reality; we fail to see that a me-first approach erodes public infrastructure, public confidence and our social fabric.

Justice isn't imposed from without; it's something we have to practice, every day, and it begins with simply being conscious of context.  Next comes empathy, optimism and the will to collaborate.  How might we build that equitable world so many speeches allude to?

There is no justice in the world - it's a theoretical construct.

Unless we make it.  We - that means all of us.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Greater Power, Narrower Lens

You know, Canada stands accused of committing cultural genocide.  ISIS stands accused of committing genocide.

Lots of folk in this country getting their wrists slapped after double-dipping or misspending public dollars or blatantly abusing power.

"I don't think about anything unless I'm paid to" I've heard more than one high-priced consultant say - sometimes in conjunction with that merry line, "you don't have to know what you're talking about - just sound confident while you say it."

Yet, of course, there's no lesson in what the Pope has to say - not for history's actors.  They are smart, we are dumb, as one of them told me years ago.

We are repeating mistakes that could and should have been prevented, with even a tad more foresight.