The Sound of Democracy

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Participation Tuesday, May 27, 2014 View Count = 1547

The Sound of Democracy

Today's blog post comes from our Outreach Manager John Beebe.

This is what is sounds like when you ask 200 young people, “What issues matter to you?”

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a Democracy Talks program with 200 young people at Queen’s Park celebrating Ontario’s first “Children and Youth In Care Day.”  To mark the day, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) invited member agencies from across Ontario to bring young people living in care to Queen’s Park to learn about our political institutions and develop their political voices.

Sharing our thoughts about local issues and ideal democracies on a Queen's Park Committee Room wall.

In the legislative buildings’ two largest committee rooms we removed all the chairs, packed everyone in and sat on the floor for a conversation on what matters. The young people were each first given a long list of issues and asked to choose the four that were most important to them.  After quickly making their choices, participants formed small groups to debate and choose the four most important issues for the group. And that is when the buzz started. Snippets of conversation rose above the din - “Employment” “Lower Taxes” “Support for First Nations” “Better Teachers” “More Arts Programming.”

The room buzzed with thoughtful, passionate and respectful conversations about issues that mattered most to the young people in the room. It was a real treat to stand back and listen to their insights and excitement.

As Samara’s Manager of Outreach I’ve spent the last year working with community groups to hone our Democracy Talks program. What we have learned is that Democracy Talks is much more than just talking – it is talking, listening and being heard. So often when we teach about politics we stand in a room and talk at people, telling them that their voices matter without providing an opportunity for them to actually say anything.

In just the last few months, over 500 people have taken part in a Democracy Talk, and over 50 facilitators have been introduced to the program. As provincial, municipal and federal elections approach, we hope that these programs will help thousands of Canadians develop their political voices. The best way to do that? Practice democracy --- talk, listen and be heard. If you are interested in running a Democracy Talks program in your community, please be in touch

Read more about Democracy Talks

Talking politics with "Village Bloggurls"

The plane has landed

Wisdom from the frontlines

The power of political conversation

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