One of the four initial legs at ER’s inaugural Strasbourg LOTE#1 was ‘participatory democratic strategies’. From several sources we heard of citizen initiatives that formed an undeniable additional voice in their local communities. These incorporated net plebiscite solutions, participatory budgeting tools, and software for facilitating broad community policy design meetings.
I think this thread remains a central approach behind all ER aspirations. Long-term, I view this work as the central tool that can allow our initiatives to expand exponentially into broad people’s movements.
Now lodged deep within the daily life of the unMo, I suspect this is our ultimate strategy – to expand the space within the unMo walls for citizen’s organisations to inhabit as ‘sanctified free space’. That we seek to host human gatherings which supported by our skills promote the strengthening of internal mechanisms of citizen’s groupings until they can take the debate further into the core of their societies. With time these methods can develop into the 4th voice of social steering: augmenting the overstretched mechanism of political representation, the inertia of the civil service and the easily skewered perspective of the press with a vivid vital contribution by the hereto marginalised often highly educated next-generation. I think of this work as Rebooting Democracy.
I’d like to suggest that this Rebooting Democracy as a key ER concern deserves further articulation. As things stand is not realistic to incorporate this into the work in Matera without a significantly extended presence. I am looking for a laboratory to develop readily applicable strategies and tools to engage both compact and extended populations in their pressing issues. I envisage a three stage ER package that would first provide a net-based preparation of regional collaborators. This would be followed by an active field team that administrates a process among a host population while transmitting the skills to replicate it. In the third stage ER would insure sufficient net follow-up and international reinforcement to support the applications.
Based as I am in Bergen, my first step is a pilgrimage to Iceland in mid-June. I intend to meet with Smarni and Ásta and/or others who were central in the 2010 Þjóðfundur Process that so captured my imagination in Strasbourg. If the further development of this tool can be viewed as a pan-Nordic contribution to global culture, we may have sufficient leverage to work up a mobile workshop that can tweak the mechanisms through several editions before offering it to populations with perhaps a more urgent agenda.
What do you say?