Active Democracy: A Resurgence
Empower Civil Society
Democracy isn’t a spectator sport and it’s rich in stories that seek to unite us. Active democracy represents and responds to the will of its citizens and it is this incentive that has seen the resurgence in community led issue groups in recent years. Nowadays, innovation and connectedness provide the drive that will lead to change in society and governance.
Some countries in mainland Europe and on a larger scale in the USA, are used to the "political rally". On the other hand, perceived as a less aggressive and perhaps more methodical branch, community-led groups have stepped up to the plate, aiming to influence change through online mediums such as Facebook and Twitter. Building support online gets reflected in large attendances at local halls and signatures on petitions. It is more about bolstering good feeling in the locality and trying to bring pride back to smaller and often forgotten areas which are what motivates these groups.
Building From The Bottom Up
Community led action groups are represented in many ways. In Ireland, many towns and villages have active tidy town committees who work year-round to present their locality in the best possible manner for an annual competition. Apart from the obvious rewards of grants, bursaries, and added tourism attractions, growing a sense of comradeship and union is a huge bonus. From these community groups, more action panels can be formed. Issue groups may stem and more often than not the same individuals will work in many groups.
What matters in the initial stages of any movement is the people, not the procedures. We always say to get your core individuals in place and then tinker with your strategy after. Getting citizens to speak and create an agenda for future action from the bottom up really helps to sharpen focus.
So how can we give these grassroots born organizations a chance to compete in the big leagues?
Waiting around for elected representatives or parties in government to work on an issue that matters to you often takes a long time. With the way people can communicate and enact change nowadays, we often feel more powerful going it alone. Active democracy is all about giving voice to and educating people.
Forming cooperative networks for future work is invaluable in these circles. It shows that you are willing to go outside of your immediate group for more expertise and also being open to collaboration adds another dimension to your campaign.
Seeking ways of implementing long-term principles should be another priority for any active groups. This shows that you are serious about the long-term vision for your community. Putting technology in the hands of your members so they can record any meaningful interactions with other advocates, conduct surveys with a wider spectrum of the area and send out regular emails or texts is the way forward. Investing in tech not only shows that you have one eye on the next goal, it also gives your operation the transparency that is so often called into question these days.
No longer should democracy be reduced to the polling booth, put forums in a place where like-minded individuals can share their ideas without fear of being shut down or being told to wait 4 more years. Active democracy is exactly that, active. Keep it ongoing and don't hesitate to get in touch if you want to know how Voxcitio can help you reach a larger audience.