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Blogathon 2009 – On politics and being political

Blogathon 2009 Vancouver for Vancouver Public Space NetworkThis blog post is part of Blogathon 2009, in which I am blogging for 24 hours straight in order to raise money for the Vancouver Public Space Network, an entirely volunteer-run organization who do advocacy and education on the public realm in my home of Vancouver, British Columbia. Please consider supporting by sponsoring me with a pledge, leaving a comment or contacting me to contribute a guest post.

One of my informal goals this year (or was it last year, even?) was to figure out where I stand on things politically. I still find politics really brutal to participate in. I stumbled upon a great quote yesterday from the Saguaro Seminar of Civic Engagement and Social Capital in America, that called voting and attending meetings “civic broccoli,” because they are “good for all but unpleasant to many.”

Funny enough, I do fine attending meetings, keeping myself informed and even exposing myself to different points of view. The most irritating part of politics for me are, in order of irritation from least to most:

  1. listening to politicians or reading their platforms
  2. being asked to take a stand before I feel I have the facts I want
  3. talking about it with people in a very contrived and obviously slanted manner – or worse, asking people about what they think on issues in an insincere attempt to pull them into “dialogue”
  4. reading one-sided comments on news sites like CTV and CBC

The second last one may sometimes strikes me as odd: after all, I participated in SFU’s Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue, so I should be all about it, right? But I find that self-serving conversation tactics are a fairly harsh disservice to the relationship I already have with people, which is often based on things that have nothing to believe with what my ideas about the environment, the government, or the voting system are.

I find that it’s much simpler just to talk about what’s been going on in my life, and to leave conversational “hooks” – places where people can ask more questions if they want to, but which are completely optional so they can ignore it and move onto whatever it is they’re actually passionate or care about. Dialogue is not dialogue if the participants feels they were coerced into sharing their experience, and that’s the last thing I want to make the people in my life feel like I’ve done to them.

I still find it difficult to do other things like writing letters to the editor, or even being overly political on this blog. As I’ve been doing things like making more episodes of my video-blog TransLinked, however, I’ve been literally and metaphorically becoming more comfortable with my voice, saying what I believe, and having that taken for what it is.

I’m quite late with this post, but I’d still like to relate a very political story that happened to me not too long ago. This year’s Northern Voice pre-party at Frederico’s on Commercial Drive was sponsored by the BC Liberal Party/a>, and there was quite a great furor about what this meant for the conference and its political affiliations. I attended that pre-party event, and found myself speaking to two people from said party, who did not reveal until partway into the conversation that they were in fact with the party.

What the conversation brought out for me, looking back, is how much the party system makes policy into a business-esque “you get what you negotiate” kind of a transaction, rather than a conversation based on the merits of our values and beliefs. I’ve referred to myself as a single-issue voter because the tactics and strategies of the parties I have to choose from have left me utterly disenfranchised, feeling unrepresented, and makes me feel like there is an unbridgeable gulf between me and the rest of British Columbia at times.

“Voting is a kajillion times more important than a cloth bag,” my friend wrote in his Facebook, linking to this Common Dreams article about the myth of personal consumption in the fight against climate change. It is still very difficult for me to accept that what I say might be more important than what I do, even if that ends up being voting with my feet.


  1. Tina

    Looks like you’re still going strong. keep up the good work.

    Posted July 25, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  2. Thanks for the support! Luckily for me, public space is the topic that just keeps on giving ;)

    Posted July 25, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

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