Poly-ticks – multiple flesh-eating creatures

In the days following my post about the relevance of Transit Camp, I did continue to fret about whether Thai Spice (my pet name for the critic of the event) was right. Their point, I’m aware of now in hindsight, was that sitting down with TransLink and not bringing the question of their accountability would be a legitimation of what went down in Victoria with Bill 43 last week.

No question that Bill 43 is depressing. At the same time, I can’t believe how many times I was asked this week to write letters. That’s what I have to contribute to the democractic process? Granted, I’m not going to be able to put on a Transit Camp for every issue I feel strongly about, but there is something about the centrality of writing a letter to a minister or MLA, or even signing petitions, that pisses me off. Why is the feedback loop between me and say, Moo Cards in London, so much shorter and easier and pleasant than the one between me and my MP, who I’ve never quite gotten around to sending a letter to?

I’m trying to put my finger on it. I’ve been doing a lot of reading for my research proposal, and one thing that I’ve noticed, if the scholarly articles I’m reading are reflecting reality whatsoever, is that frustration with political organizations and governments is somewhat commonplace. This feeling of votes and letters not mattering, is not rare. Doesn’t that indicate that there’s something, oh, wrong or unsustainable with the democratic system we’ve devised? Now, we get elected MPs gaming the system by bypassing all the rules they made about representation, deliberation or debate.

Co-governance, self-governance, cooperation, collaboration, listening, compromise, leadership. These are the things that I think a lot of people want to learn more about, and these are just some of the things I’ve managed to get a glimpse of in my experience with Transit Camp. Writing a letter gets me the satisfaction of having written a letter, and for showing one of the staffers at my MP’s office that I can copy and paste a form letter, unless I happen to actually know what I’m talking about.

My perception is that most people just want to be able to get home in time for Dancing with the Stars and couldn’t give two shakes for how the decisions are going to be made. But it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, if they’re not participating because it feels fruitless and they’re not able to get jollies out of engaging for the sake of having participated, and so they don’t do anything and crap happens because they didn’t do anything about it and they continue to feel alienated. Where do we break this cycle? Is it the individual that has to do it? If so, what can we do to make it easier for them to do that?

Some of this I’ll be addressing in my honours proposal anyway, so this is only the first part of an avalance… ;)


  1. robbat2

    In this week’s Georgia Straight, there was an article about Umberto Eco – notable not for itself, but for his observation that Rome began to fall when it’s politicians cared more about being liked by the people than actually achieving any real work.

    Posted December 2, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  2. Robin, it is very interesting that that statement can be used both to support and to oppose the frustration I was expressing. After all, wasn’t Bill 43 was justified by Kevin Falcon as saying that real work would get done once the board could stop getting tangled up in the requirements of democracy?

    Posted December 2, 2007 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
  3. Dear Karen, I saw your post on the VanCity site “Change Everything”. I support and encourage your transit camp initiative. We all have to do what we can to improve things in our community. I am a musician, so I wrote a song called “Live More Lightly” and now I am planning to try to promote these values. You can check my blog http://www.livemorelightly.com for more info. It was such a coincidence to see you on the site after meeting you at my daughter’s house. Talk soon and good luck on you honours project.

    Posted December 3, 2007 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  4. Vicky,

    Thanks for sending over the information about your website! It’s enjoyable to read about your progress with WordPress and your project sounds delightful. If you ever need a hand with it, you’ll know where to find me (once I finally get around to moving out, that is :D).

    Posted December 6, 2007 at 11:17 am | Permalink

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