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Video: Dave Meslin on the Importance of Dialogue

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue commissioned a series of short videos of the well-known Toronto-based community organizer Dave Meslin in May 2013. In this second video of the series, Meslin describes why dialogue is a critical but missing part of the political process.

The video series marks the 2013 Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue, titled Building a Culture of Participation. This event brought together City of Vancouver employees, members of the City’s Engaged City Task Force and community members to explore opportunities for increased citizen political empowerment in official City decision-making. Activities included an interactive public lecture and an invitational workshop that was jointly presented by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, SFU Public Square and the City of Vancouver.

At the invitational workshop, Meslin presented examples of active citizen engagement from his projects in the Greater Toronto Area. Meslin proposed four pre-conditions for citizens to engage with their cities: confidence; knowledge of the political system; an expectation of malleability or responsiveness; and a sense of ownership over their city.

Next, participants engaged in a breakout exercise, with the goal of designing a model engagement process that would achieve citizen political empowerment in deciding the future of Vancouver’s False Creek South community. For the purpose of this workshop, Citizen Political Empowerment was defined as a citizen engagement process where the City and citizens work collaboratively to frame issues, develop options and identify preferred solutions, or processes where the decision-making power rests primarily in the hands of citizens.

A full description of the workshop design, presentations and breakout group ideas is available in the final report, available at: http://www.sfu.ca/dialogue/programs/welch-dialogue/building-participation.html.

Funding for Building a Culture of Participation was provided through the Centre for Dialogue’s Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue, a yearly event designed to encourage transformative social change through dialogue.

For more information, contact Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue at dial@sfu.ca or www.sfu.ca/dialogue.

Submitted by Robin Prest of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue via NCDD’s Add-a-Resource form.

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