If you picked up the phone right now and called Rob Ford’s office, a nice fellow by the name of Tom Beyer would answer the phone. Tom has been the ‘customer service’ face of Ford’s office for two years, spending long days answering hundreds of calls and even making appearances on behalf of the mayor.
About a year ago, Tom and I were chatting about our hobbies. Tom’s an avid videographer, and his favorite subjects to shoot are off-street bike paths and indie rock bands. That got us talking about music, and we came up with a fun idea: let’s create a non-partisan City Hall band! I liked the idea of left and right coming together to make music. It seemed to fit well with other efforts I was making to reduce polarization at City Hall and encourage civil discourse and mutual respect. Oh, and it would be fun as hell.
Last week I spent four days at a brilliant conference in Vancouver called Alone Together. It was all about “Connecting in the City”, and participants explored themes of urban isolation, social disconnectedness, and the sensation of feeling alienated or lost in your own city.
The conference was well-organised, with an amazing 6-day programme. One of my favorite things was the back page of the official conference booklet. They printed a door hanger – for your neighbours. Love this:
“Do you think we should be consulting the local residents before we make this decision?”
~ City Councillor Mike Layton
“I’ve got no quarrel with that”
~ City Councillor John Parker
During the 13 years that I’ve been following meetings at City Hall, I’ve learned a lot about how the democratic process is supposed to function. It’s a complicated process – one that I’ve tried to de-mystify for my readers last year by writing “Inside Baseball: The rules of City Council” and a chapter in Local Motion called “Finding your way through City Hall”.
The process can seem complicated and burdensome, but every part of it exists for a reason. The process is designed to include input from a variety of sources, such as from expert staff or from residents who will affected by a decision.
When procedural steps are avoided, or ignored, the system breaks down and the process is no longer democratic. One of the worst cases I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been watching Council meetings since Mel Lastman was mayor, and Jack Layton was a rogue Councillor), was last year when John Parker moved the motion to remove the Jarvis bike lanes at the June meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.
Village of Pemberton CAO Daniel Sailland, Communications Coordinator Jill Brooksbank & Mayor Jordan Sturdy.
Last week, I had the privilege of delivering an award to the Mayor of Pemberton, British Columbia. Here’s the story behind the award:
Since I first posted about Drivers for Jarvis, I continue to receive new requests from across TO from those who want to join the campaign!
I’ve pasted some recent photos below, and the full list can be found on the Cycle Toronto website.
Wanna add your name to the list? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Cluley (a great guy, in my opinion) has written a long blog post explaining why he supports changing the name of the Toronto Cyclists Union to ‘Cycle Toronto’. As I’ve already written, I’m a fan of keeping the name as it is. But more importantly, I’m a fan of democracy and debate, and I’m glad Nick has contributed to the online debate, and I think it’s great that this choice is being carried out in a democratic way, with all members having a say.
I encourage members to take the time to read Nick’s post, and then vote however you wish. The main thing is that after the vote, we all get back to work and focus on our shared goal: more bikes on the streets, and safer roads for everyone. Continue reading
On May 2nd, members of the Toronto Cyclists Union will vote on a proposal to re-brand the organization and change the name to Cycle Toronto. I’m encouraging members to vote ‘no’, and this blog post explains why.
First, let me say that I think the discussion is a healthy one to have, and I think it’s great that the Board of Directors has put this proposal forward. Re-evaluating a brand, and exploring re-branding is a positive exercise for any non-profit or corporation.
In the end, there will always be benefits and drawbacks to a name-change. So, the question is simply: do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? So, let’s explore both. Continue reading
A couple of months ago, I was thinking about how difficult it can be to explain the ways in which our voting system is a total scam. When given 15 or 20 minutes, it’s easy to break down the mathematical insanity that we call “first past the post”. But if you’ve only got 2 or 3 minutes, it’s hard to describe the polarising, divisive and unfair characteristics of ‘vote-splitting’ and ‘strategic-voting’.
So I designed an “Election Quilt” that would allow someone to easily facilitate an interactive presentation, in mere minutes, that clearly shows why our voting system is a national disgrace.
Last week, while playing Angry Birds, I had the most absurd vision: A Toronto City Council meeting where all the Councillors spoke with Angry Birds sounds – instead of words.
It seemed so hilarious to me, that I couldn’t help myself from editing a short video – just to see what it might actually look like.
For your, enjoyment:
In 2010, forty Torontonians ran for mayor. The media selected six candidates as frontrunners, and only one of them was a woman. By election day, Sarah Thomson had dropped out of the race, along with Rocco Rossi and Giorgio Mammoliti. The remaining frontrunners were all men.
Sadly, this isn’t surprising in a political world where the last three leaders of our three levels of governments have the following names: Stephen, Paul, Jean, Dalton, Ernie, Mike, Rob, David & Mel.