Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Not a lot of Open Space for Democracy in Olympia last night

Open Space for Democracy is one of my favorite books of all time, which made me sad that I wasn't able to go last night when Terry Tempest Williams was speaking downtown on climate change. Though, it seems I wouldn't have been too happy if I had gone. I'm not too happy right now.

This is a forum?
After a series of written audience questions directed at the speakers and moderated by KPLU Radio reporter Liam Moriarity, attendees were asked to fill out commitment forms in their programs, pledging to help. The solutions included installing fluorescent light bulbs, buying recycled items and reducing car trips. The forms were collected in the lobby.
Second hand I heard that both Williams and the other speaker talked for a half hour and then combined they took three questions. Not too open forumy to me. Not much like a democracy either, it sounded more like a lecture.

I know the point of the "forum" was to spark action, but 1,000 people out of a city of 40,000 plus (and I'm assuming that some of the folks came from out of town), doesn't sound very cost effective to me.

Bringing big time speakers in seems like more of the role of something like the

If, on the other hand, we're talking about a local government trying to formulate policy, I think we need a different approach. The $25,000 we spent could have gone a lot further to bringing people together.
  • If we spent $25,000 on building a city club (like in Portland, Tacoma or Eugene) that would go a lot further in building democracy here than bringing in high priced talent for a "forum." Or maybe a something a little more active, like an English Civil Society group.
a year for a county of over 1.5 million people. I wonder what we could get for $25,000 is a city of just over $40,000. There is even a bill that has been introduced for this on the state level.

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