A few weeks ago, I drove for 16 hours to Minneapolis along with two other volunteers from the RaBIT campaign: Sarah Rimmington and Chloe Doesburg.
We spent one week documenting and researching their municipal election. A new City Council was elected – using a ranked ballot!!
After 40 years on this planet, I’d finally witnessed an actual fair election. There were no distorted results, negative campaigns or ‘vote splitting’ – the hallmarks of a Toronto election. They elected a female mayor, 46% female council, as well as their first Somali Councillor, first Latino Councillor and first Hmong Councillor. It was a breath of fresh air, compared to what I’m used to.
Here are three videos I’ve edited, from the footage that the three of us shot on streets of Minneapolis:
Three years ago, I launched The Fourth Wall exhibit containing 36 practical ways to make our local democracy more inclusive, inviting and participatory.
Recommendation #22 was simple: “The city should pro-actively promote the nomination process and encourage nominations”.
We have this wonderful thing called “Democracy”, where anyone is allowed to put their name on a ballot and ask the public to support their vision and their ideas. But it only works if people actually know when and how to participate!
In the exhibit, I pointed out that the city does know to produce good outreach materials, when they are seeking nominations for OTHER things …like the ‘Green Toronto Awards’:
Note the effective use of colour, images, pretty fonts, and attractive layout/design. There’s even an exclamation mark. (!)
As part of the exhibit, I created a fictitious “Call for Nominations” for City Council:
But this ad shouldn’t be fictitious. We know the City has the capacity to design effective marketing materials. So I was disappointed to see this ad in today’s newspaper: Continue reading
Seven years ago, it occurred to me that paying rent was a real drag.
I was putting together the original business plan for Cycle Toronto, and I realised that we’d need to have a full-time staff person for about nine months, being paid roughly $0 per week. As long as I needed to pay rent, we couldn’t start the new bike group.
So I came up with a fun idea called “The Professional Guest”. I sent the following letter to all my friends:
November 27 2006
I’m moving out of my house and I’d like to move into yours. Don’t be alarmed. My plan is not to be a moocher nor a ‘Couch Surfer’. As of New Years, I will begin my new career as a Professional Guest.
Mayor Rob Ford was in Winnipeg this week, and commented that “The thing I liked about it, they only had 16 councillors down there and a little, small council chamber,”
Well, that might be because Winnipeg is roughly a quarter of the size of Toronto.
City Hall has more than a dozen committees, dealing with parks, transportation, budget, social services, development planning, etc. And each committee meets every month, with a huge agenda.
For those who want to stay on top of a particular municipal issue, the hardest part is navigating through these agendas, and finding the topic you need. After all, it’s not very helpful to find out about a decision at City Hall after it’s been made. The trick is to know about agenda items, before they are debated.
Well, here’s some good news! The good folks at the Toronto Public Space Initiative have designed a new website called TABS: Transparent and Accessible Bulletin System.
Over the last year, I’ve written extensively about the pending removal of the Jarvis bike lanes. There are so many reasons why Council should back down on this plan: reasons related to safety, fair process, wasted dollars, and community support for Complete Streets.
Now, we can add another reason. Not only is the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes a colossal waste of money (the lanes are brand new) – but guess where the money is coming from? I’ve been able to confirm with the City that the money to REMOVE the lanes is being pulled directly out of the limited budget the City has to INSTALL bike lanes! So not only are cyclists losing a major bike lane, serving 1000+ cyclists during rush hour, … but we’re seeing our own capital budget reduced at the same time.
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:
I first posted about Drivers for Jarvis a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve received 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 bike union website.
Wanna add your name to the list? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, City Council will be debating and voting on what type of transit to use on Sheppard Ave East. An expert panel has recommended “Light Rail Transit”, commonly known as LRT. Others are advocating for an underground subway.
There are merits to both points of view, but the first step towards choosing the right system is to get beyond the rhetoric. Some of those who support subways, have been referring to LRTs as “streetcars” or “trolleys”. This is a misleading tactic, designed to confuse voters. I’ve selected a dozen videos, from around the world, showing that LRTS can be fast, comfortable and high-capacity. This ain’t no trolley: Continue reading
Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with an amazing team of volunteer researchers to dig through the archives of Toronto’s Bureau of Municipal Research.
We’ve found some amazing material from the BMR, who describe themselves as “An independent fact-finding organisation reporting to the public on civic affairs”.
Here’s one of my favorites finds so far! From January 1921, here is a proposed list of New Year’s resolutions – for both Citizens and Councillors.
“Would the adoption of some of the following New Year’s Resolutions make for More Effective Civic Administration?” Continue reading