Thursday, January 27, 2011

Civic Engagement: What Can Councillors Do? Part Six

As stated previously, I believe that the only authentic way to improve local governance on a long-term basis is to 'increase the relationship of engagement between the residents and their Councillors'.

The direction of the engagement is paramount. It has to come from the citizenry to be authentic and longstanding. The primary impetus has to come from us.

However, I also believe that Councillors must do what they can do to help build this new relationship of engagement. Here's my sixth suggestion towards this end.

A Councillor should be making public contact in non-event situations.

I believe that the inherent cynicism that people feel towards politicians is only magnified when it's perceived that Councillors are only 'seen' at events, functions, you know; hobbing with the nobs. There's no question that these occasions are a part of the game we call 'politics'. But there must be more to a Councillor's visibility.

If we're going to change the culture of voter apathy, change the culture of disinterest, of detachment, then we have to change how we as residents see our Councillors. Specifically, how our children, our youth see them. And to me, this can be helped along by having more opportunities to have contact under day-to-day circumstances.

These don't have to be public relations indulgences. In the case of improved awareness of 'civics', two birds can be killed with one stone. We have a lot of work cut out for us if we want our children to see local governance as not somewhat of an inconvenient obligation, but rather as something we feel a moral responsibility towards. Part of a fulfilling lifestyle. Getting our Councillors out there and seen, presenting them as 'real' is a powerful means towards this end.

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I'm always interested in feedback, differing opinions, even contrarian long as they're delivered with decorum...with panache and flair always helping.