Happy Election Day!


Today we choose who will be leading the significant public institutions who have a significant hand in shaping our city.  Today, we choose who will run city hall and our school boards. If you haven’t already done so, here’s a link to a site full of links to candidates so you can make an informed choice (thank you Dave Cournoyer).

As a citizen, you are an evolutionary agent when you make your choice and cast your vote.

Fuel the electoral energy in the city and cast your vote.

You have a say. Use it.




Citizen as evolutionary agent


The questions put to candidates in the election forums I have been moderating for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues this fall are about what city hall can do for citizens. No one is asking what citizens – as communities – contribute to the city as a whole.

While moderating a Ward 10 forum, hosted by Blue Quill Community League, the South West Area Council and the Central Area Council of Community Leagues and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, the audience was asked to write questions down on index cards, to be drawn at random and put to the candidates. This question was not drawn and put to the candidates, but it stands out:

a rare question

What do we owe to the city as a whole?

A number of trade-offs immediately come to mind with this question: welcome the LRT through my neighbourhood to allow the larger transportation network to work better; allow higher density housing in my neighbourhood to make better use of city infrastructure; welcome a variety of housing in my neighbourhood to accommodate a variety of citizens; encourage expenditures  for neighbourhood renewal first in neighbourhoods that really need it. To truly serve the whole in these (and many other) ways, we need to co-create a social habitat that allows for them to happen. We need to co-create the space to see what the city needs, versus what my community needs.

Citizens are city makers. We build the physical city in which we live, we build the economic systems in which we work, and we build the social habitat that helps us navigate the world. We choose the city we want by naming it, describing it. When we speak of what’s wrong, we get more of what’s wrong. It’s time to create a social habitat that aims for more of what we want, that delivers on the improvements we seek. This is important work, because at every scale (self, family, neighbourhood/organization, city, nation, planet), what we build lasts: it reverberates for a long time to come. Everything we do shapes our city.

The responsibility of citizens is to be the best citizen possible and prototype social habitats that affect deep systemic change. Here’s how:

Connect  to your Highest Self.

Connect your Self to your city.

Be an evolutionary agent.

 In what ways are you an evolutionary agent for your city?


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Coming election forums:

  • Tuesday October 15, 2013 – Mayoral Candidate Forum hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations at Four Points Sheraton (7230 Argyll Road NW) at 7 pm (register here)
  • Wednesday October 16, 2013 – Ward 6 Candidates Forum at North Glenora Community League Hall (13535 109 A Avenue) at 7 pm
  • Thursday October 17, 2013 – Ward 4 Candidates Forum at McLeod Community League (14715 59th Street) at 8 pm

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This post is part of Chapter 9 – Be the Best Citizen You Can Be. Here are some plot helpers of Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities, the book I am sharing here while I search for a publisher:

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Be a conscious voter

188 - Be a conscious citizen image

As numerous as the candidates were at last night’s election forum that I moderated for the Downtown and Oliver Community Leagues, most remarkable were the 140 people in the audience, attentively listening and taking notes. (For a recap, check out Mack D. Male’s post.) These citizens were taking the opportunity to see their future councillor in action. These citizens are taking the initiative to be informed voters.

Now that’s a good way to serve your city. Exercise your vote.

An even better way to serve your city is to vote consciously. Here are some questions I ask myself before casting my vote:

  1. Who is running for election?
  2. What do they stand for?
  3. Do they have the ability to run a large organization?
  4. Do they know what that large organization is for?
  5. Do they know what they want to do, and can they realistically do it?
  6. Do they have good relationships with people they disagree with?
  7. Are they open to learning new things from any source?

These last two are important, because it is not possible for a councillor or council to please everyone. It is unreasonable to expect every citizen to be happy with city hall, because we will all be unhappy with something. The real question is whether the people we elect are smart enough, skilled enough and have the emotional intelligence to build relationships to get things done. I don’t have to agree with everything they do, but I do have to trust that from their vantage point, they see things I don’t see. To trust them, I need to see that they are open to learning from anyone wanting to have their ear.

That’s how I vote consciously.

What action do you take to vote consciously?


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Want an election forum in your league? You have the support of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. I will help you design your event and moderate it. Just get in touch – beth@populus.ca

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Choose the city you want


As citizens we spend a lot of time talking about what we don’t want, what we don’t like about our cities. Our government isn’t good enough. There is too much poverty. We are causing great environmental damage. Our economic systems are collapsing. We pay too many taxes. The potholes are not fixed.

When we pay attention to what’s wrong, we get more of what’s wrong. When it comes to our cities, it is time to pay attention to what we want. It’s time to choose the city we want.

There’s a municipal election coming in Alberta on October 21, 2013 – are you telling candidates what’s wrong, or what you love about your city and want more of?

What makes you feel alive in your city?

What city do you choose?

Choose it. Name it. Once you do, we’re on our way to having it.  

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This post is part of Chapter 9 – Be the Best Citizen You Can Be. Here are some plot helpers of Nest City: The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities, the book I am sharing here while I search for a publisher:

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