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Vancouver ChangeCamp is Very Opinionated

Posted by melagee on June 22, 2009

Vancouver ChangeCamp was an unconference held downtown for people to discuss possible changes to the way our city and our government is run, and how we might be able to affect those changes.  I had a good time at the camp, having gone in with the idea that I would get to hear some great new ideas and that I might be able to share some of my ideas.  I was right about hearing new ideas, but not so right about sharing my own ideas.

The camp was full of smart people leading sessions on a wide variety of topics, such as mapping, police accountability, and the integration of city services/purchases.  I very much enjoyed hearing what such big brains had to say about how we can turn Vancouver into a more functional and fair place to live.  My problem came with feeling intimidated and ill informed to really participate in the nitty gritty of the conversation.

My knowledge about the processes of city governance made it difficult for me to really speak to the current structure of how our city is run, or make suggestions for how it might be more effectively managed.  I had only my laymen’s opinion about what I looked weird or wrong to me, and an application of common sense that told me these systems existed for a reason even if I couldn’t understand what that reason was.  I felt shy about my lack of logistical knowledge, so I just tried to pay attention and perhaps learn a thing or two.

At the end of the day there was a lot of self congratulation about how great the camp was and how important and weren’t we all amazing for showing up and trying to make our city a better place?  And to a degree I felt the sentiment was right, but I’ve seen people get excited about ideas before, and a lot of those times the ideas never really went anywhere.  It’s as though people get all fired up on a topic and then consider their job done once they’ve talked about it.  People think they can be all words and ideas and that someone else will pick up the shovel and do the actual work of making their ideas happen, and that idea just isn’t enough for me.

I think ChangeCamp was a wonderful idea and a great start, but there’s so much more that can be done.  Just talking about your amazing ideas and pointing out what’s wrong with the system is the tiniest part of what needs to be done.   Now that you have the idea, move on it!  Do something about the parts of our city that are broken or ineffective!  Don’t just wait for the world to change around you – make it change!  Otherwise what’s the point of talking about any of it?


One Response to “Vancouver ChangeCamp is Very Opinionated”

  1. Karen said

    I totally agree with this post! My personal experience is that follow-up is the hardest step, and it often takes multiple Camps for it to sink in. I’m not sure if I managed to say it right, but the hours following Vancouver ChangeCamp were most crucial for connecting the events of the day to what people would be doing the day afterwards, and that’s my way of trying to tell people to go out and do stuff. But I also do think it’s a feeling-out process – that the energy of something like ChangeCamp takes its time to worm its way into one’s every waking act, every minor and major decision.

    I was glad to have met you during the Transit session and look forward to making more merry around town with you 🙂

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