Like-minded and unlike-minded can connect at ChangeCamp

When I was first asked if I knew about Change-Camp, admittedly, I thought it was a reality television show. Then, when I was told it was a nationwide grassroots movement encouraging us to “design a future based on transparency, civic engagement and democratic empowerment,” I still thought it could make good television, at least on the CPAC channel.

According to the website http://sault.changecamp.ca the local chapter is holding an event this month “where our community will gather to answer this one simple question: How can we work together to create our desired future?”

That’s no small question. What is our “desired future?” And won’t my answer differ from others?

Indeed, some would want to focus on the economic future of the community, creating jobs, taking on youth outmigration. Others would be more interested in clean air, water, green space and focusing on the “naturally gifted” slogan.

Some would want to look at the social aspect of community and improve meeting places for seniors, youth, new immigrants, and improve tolerance for diversity within our community.

Then there is the political agenda, as some might want to address concerns of old-boys’ networks in government, and others could want to keep the current system purring.

The beauty of this un-conference is that like-minded people can connect, even if the people beside them are not like-minded.

The seeds for new directions could all be planted in one room. New and even unlikely friendships could be forged around tending for these new seedlings together.

The organizers are quite specific that no one right answer is sought.

I like the idea that the event could help “citizens become more connected to each other around their civic passions in the place they call home.”

We have become so insular that sometimes I think we fall into the trap of feeling that one person can’t make a difference. Nothing could be further from the truth, and events such as this could help bolster an agenda we believe in, by getting help to make it take root and blossom.

I don’t understand the “how” of the other part of the mandate, but again it sounds worthwhile: “helping governments become more open, transparent, participatory, innovative, efficient and effective.”

Labelled a “movement” as opposed to an “event” Change-Camp is supposed to “seek responses, opinions and actions to this question from many diverse individuals and groups in our community.”

My concern is that the “movement” is an all-day event — which will turn off a lot of participants, including me. I’m all for change, but listening to ideas/complaints all day is not my idea of fun — especially if I have to pay a babysitter for the privilege, and be away from my kids on a Saturday.

So that raises the question, who will go?

There will, of course, be the hard-core activists preaching on their standard soap boxes. Although some extreme views are unrealistic, they have their place in helping us to move further forward than without them.

Candidates for the next election might want to take note of this meeting, to listen to ideas for causes they can help champion and show what they stand for and against.

Aside from radicals and the political, I’m hoping the event will attract the moms and dads and grandmothers and grandfathers and teens who are positive thinkers and believe in big ideas.

I would hope that educated people will be drawn to the event — not only people who have higher education, but entrepreneurs, those who have travelled the world, seen what is possible, and have vision that sees past our Northern community.

I’m hoping that the people who think to themselves “this event is not for me” will be the ones who go.

Who knows, ChangeCamp might help someone out there decide to run for city council or mayor. After all, it seems all kinds are throwing their hats in the ring, so why not you? Why not me?

We should at least consider attending, as it could be more entertaining than reruns and has all the components for good reality television.

I can hear the announcer’s voice booming for the Change-Camp premiere: Will it simply be a collection of the city’s squeaky wheels? Will friendships be made and new directions planted? Will unexpected leaders emerge?

There is one way to find out, tune in to ChangeCamp on Saturday, June 26.

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