Democracy Talks Dispatches: DT convenes local enthusiasm

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Participation Monday, July 22, 2013 View Count = 1459

Democracy Talks Dispatches: DT convenes local enthusiasm

Now introducing…Vanessa Scott, Nancy Hofer and Joel Fox

Occupation:

Vanessa Scott:
works to help organize environmental and social change groups already working in her community around a more common vision. She has contributed to the work of Sierra Club Comox Valley, the Comox Valley Council of Canadians, the Comox Valley Peaceful Direct Action Coalition and the LUSH Valley Food Action Society.

Nancy Hofer:
is the environmental planner with the City of Courtenay and a member of Transition Town Comox Valley, through which she uses her time to research, learn and build momentum for a vibrant locally rooted economy that engages all stakeholders from the public to municipal governments.

Joel Fox:
is a member of the Young Agrarians, a network started in BC to connect and empower young people seeking careers in agriculture and who want to reconnect with the land and community through healthy, sustainable food production.

A bit of backstory:
 Already active citizens in their community, Vanessa, Nancy and Joel had crossed paths at meetings and events but never really connected. When Vanessa got involved in youth outreach and political engagement around the 2013 BC Election, and volunteered to help organize Democracy Talks (DT) Comox Valley, she invited Nancy and Joel to participate.

Where we met:
 At a Democracy Talks session in Comox Valley.

What we talked about:
The lack of meaningful public engagement opportunities in the current political environment.

One of the greatest insights that Vanessa, Nancy and Joel took away from their original Democracy Talks session in Comox Valley (CV) was “that there are many like-minded young people out there who just need that extra encouragement or friendly connection to spur them onto greater engagement.”

For these three, the meaning of active citizenship for youth boiled down to helping each other make sense of confusing political systems, jargon and interrelated problems, while building community.

“CV DT participants learned that they are not alone in their efforts as active citizens, whether as high school seniors starting out into democracy, or as senior citizens looking back on a lifetime of advocacy. The shared passion was incentive to build new connections while breaking down barriers together.” (Vanessa).

Realizing that all their past and current community work is grounded in the need for increased civic engagement, the three decided to host a follow-up meeting to continue the conversation sparked at DT, and invite more friends to the table.

“We want to uncover ways to break through apathy not with ever-more facts, but with creative approaches that connect “issues” to daily lives, preferred lifestyles, local identity and the kind of futures we want to bring into reality.”

Interest and enthusiasm around the post-DT discussion group continues to grow in the Comox Valley, and because of this Vanessa, Nancy and Joel aim to meet on a monthly basis, with their growing group. The ongoing discussion around political engagement includes looking at ways to shift from ‘us vs. them’ framework, to a more collaborative and and common visioning paradigm.

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