Remembering the Value of Citizen Engagement

  • Real Change: Real Engagement: Real Futures


    I sat with my 14 year old son last night, watching a movie where a meaningful town hall meeting was held. To my surprise, he asked, “mom, is that what really happens at town hall meetings?” My reply, “it’s suppose to”. His reply, “well, if real things are being talked about, then I’d really love to go to one and make a difference in the community”.

    This is one of those moments, as a parent, when you realize you missed the boat. I fogot to teach him about REAL democracy and that the heart of change making is more than the vote: it’s involvement.

    The truth is, I can think of no opportunity in which my son can participate in a town meeting, even though his young creative voice is worth listening to. We have forgotten the value of the town hall gathering, and it’s time to bring it back.

    What I liked about Voices for Choices is that it created the THIRST for dialogue at a community level. It was a starter for something bigger brewing in the region: something we should all be excited about becoming involved in.

    The Northeast Ohio Citizens League is now forming, under the leadership of Mike Gesing. And I can’t wait to bring my son to those meetings. Like any new entity, there’s a lot to learn – but I think the need to shape citizen voice into action will be the missing added ingredient to the regionalism picture.

    The truth is, I myself have not been involved as a citizen, and as a result, I didn’t teach it to my son. Lucky for me, once again, he becomes my teacher.

    Upcoming Meeting: Northeast Ohio Citizens League (NEOCL) ›


    # Submitted by Arnold L. Johnson (not verified) on Tue, 07/08/2008 – 11:23.

    I think you are so right on so many levels. In my town the sorriest sight is VFW, ethnic and union halls all rarely used these days. Not that I promote their agendas but for the folk who filled them at one time they were a pool of ideas and strength. Today we don’t even know who the guy next door is and we can’t trust people in our own neighborhood. Community groups like the boy scouts were a big deal when I was a kid, even though some kids teased and scoffed at the notion. Here is the kicker, some folks tinkering with electronics, some college kids with engineering aspirations happen to trade notes in “homebrew clubs” and garages. They began the personal computer revolution we contend with today. Now we have the next generation, having grown up to be “users” of this technology, thinking they can figure it out and deal with it by themselves. The computer groups today are filled with older folk trying to catchup and be informed. Do kids today think it is macho or cool or what ever to be so independent as to not be attached to other people? If kids today think they will be contented beneficiaries of a world created by the previous generation, they are doomed to species extinction or at least a startling wakeup when things are not so great. To find you had a voice in things all along and not used it till later in life is not so cool at all. It is good to start young being engaged and involved. Develop your voice, have a say in things, participate, trade notes and be a community.

    # Submitted by Arnold L. Johnson (not verified) on Sun, 10/12/2008 – 13:42.

    Of course we have so many focus groups and departments and controlling interest elements, but how do you put together an all encompassing project that engages all parties plus the public? Lets take green energy. The main problem is that we are going to try to use green energy to supply the current power grid and consumption levels. The cost to rewire the grid, homes, replace all inefficient power hungry appliances and gadgets is staggering. And we’ve only talked about green industry, green utilities and residents changing light bulbs. I like the Hale Farm and Village approach. Instead of a step into the past, a Green Village in the midst of the city like Cleveland or a town like Lorain. This Green Village would be a living lab where real residents live with and test and report on all the green technology you can put in it, not only transitional and retrofit stuff but full outcome stuff as well. Businesses could set up their green products, schools could do courses, hands on projects and the public do educational tours, learn what green is. The project could spread to become the whole city. With everybody engaged on some level we are not waiting for the battle for resource control to be settled.

    # Submitted by Arnold L. Johnson (not verified) on Fri, 10/17/2008 – 11:38.

    I’ve heard lots of talk about education levels dipping, not being able to compete and falling behind. I have also been told that intelligence is more than being Mensa smart. I would recommend putting the problems we are facing today to the kids and let them chew on it, wrestle with it, muse on it and sleep on it. Then there must be lots of talk and some actual hands-on community action. Once the need for real solutions to real problems are realized kids will get it and practical ideas will begin to emerge.

    Some are going to excel at math, some at slinging a paintbrush and some at talking. The image of briefcases and lab coats as a bench mark is shooting past the need. The goal of education must not be to perpetuate the education machine. College is not a panacea. Some will get what they need by putting it in their hands, they are wired that way. Some will have the capacity to get a PHD and more, God bless them.
    I will put it another way. Some will design solar technology but some will have to install it, maintain it and some just appreciate it. Education will always be like herding cats no matter how much you quote the sheep theory.

    There is such a scramble to save the earth, kids have already grasped that thought. The promise of clean and renewable energy has been played in their ears over and over. The reality is we are still questioning those promises and like old rock-n-roll bands refuse to retire, we like our kind of music. There should be real and practical and visual evidence that progress toward clean energy is possible and happening. That is inspiring and hope giving to kids. They should be seeing and doing more than asking daddy to change light bulbs. As soon as a green energy source is made in a city a big education splash followed by some community action to highlight the benefits to push the technology into the publics’ psyche.
    Kids need to see how the energy flows, how the systems operate and how they fit into the equation, the parts they can play. How the different operations work together on the many levels. Like a community garden to help feed the struggling and local fresh air markets and what is urban farming anyway. How wind turbines coupled with energy conservation means less fossil fuels being dug up and burnt. How burning fossil fuels effects health and insurance cost.

    The Green Earth Day should be expanded to a week or a month. This will give kids time to ponder how the present global crisis engages all their studies and encourage them to think about it.

    This is also why I say we need a Green Village the likes of Hale Farm and Village, to step into the green future. To explore all the green stuff that work for us here in Ohio, because Ohio is different than California or Arizona. And put this village or block in the middle of the town or city to be a seed for change. Educate and propagate the green idea so that normal average people can grasp it. Then while this local action is going on do the wind and solar energy thing to erode the fossil fuel footprint. Do we really need a huge medical empire and marketing machine? I would think a Green Village would be the ultimate in preventive medicine. People would have healthy food, shelter and neighborhoods and maybe a lower cost of living.

    My thought is that while stretching to be the most advanced people on the planet, we’d realize that without the best humanity, there is no advancement. That folks turning a wrench, planting a seed or doing many other non-degree requiring work are also vital to the advancement of and sustainability of the species.

    The “No Child Left Behind” idea fails because we focus on a body of knowledge each one should have. The problem is that we leak. We leak because there are few experiences to glue the knowledge to our bones. We look for individual smart people and leaders when the body of knowledge and humanity is contained in interconnected groups of folks. We need to see how cluster intelligence works, collaborative intelligence and leverage the energy flows from that. So the individual is important and more so is synergy with others. We need to de-emphasize the athlete or preppy role models and strengthen the humanity role model.

    We all should stop squinting at the obvious, open our eyes, look over the whole situation.

    # Submitted by Kwaku L. C. Woods RN M.D. MetD1 (not verified) on Wed, 11/19/2008 – 11:14.

    I am a healer who seeks a real change in our “health” care system. According to a article in the Jan 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Public Health Assn. authored by Dr Breslow at UCLA. We have no real definition of what health is, and our present system is set up only to observe monitor and record symptoms and signs of disease, not health. He gives some acknowledgement to the fact that our present system only regards the body’s and (to a much lesser extent) the minds operation while totally ignoring the presence of what the overwhelming majority of individuals consider to be the most important aspect of humanity…the spirit.
    I’m not referring to some ideological theosophical discussion of “the soul” or the merits of any religious belief. I am attempting to start some real analysis of the non-material aspect of man that is responsible for the majority of his abilities and tendencies. It is not a religious question but a question of health and the education of mandkind regarding its true nature and capabilities.
    I am Vice President for Operation for Prometheus of Ohio, a health education company, that teaches from a platform known as,”The Trivalent Understanding”. It teaches health and understanding from the poisition that all of humanity is Trivalent (body/mind/spirit or three powered) and as such needs as much information and education regarding all of its members as can reasonably be compiled. Our job is to start the discussion, if not now- when, if not us-who? May the Lord bless you and the Ancestors protect you.