True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment

True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment

“A republic… if you can keep it…” 

The work of building up to a better outcome has always already begun, before we have a chance to think about the work itself or its necessity.

The act of leading, then, is a recognition of the forces that are converging and a conscious understanding of how to work with them, when and to what purpose.

Having just arrived back from a journey to the heart of our democracy, I am again affirmed in the feeling that our democracy is deeply personal. And so, the success of our democracy depends on the intimate experience each participant has of the democratic process.

Continue reading “True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment”

A Call for Global Citizenship

Report from the World Bank / IMF Civil Society Forum

JR-question.jpgIn the years I have been attending and contributing to the World Bank / IMF Civil Society Policy Forum, I have witnessed a distinct and ongoing evolution. Multilateral institutions like the World Bank and IMF, which are funded by and directed by governments, and which do business with governments, have direct impacts on elements of society that are not in the room when decisions are made. So civil society organizations have an important role to play in highlighting and reducing major risk areas, and in shaping policies that lead to better outcomes.

Continue reading “A Call for Global Citizenship”

Citizens Climate Lobby: A Peaceful Army of Citizens Doing Good

It is my great privilege to be working for Citizens Climate Lobby. After four years volunteering with this tremendous family of committed, engaged citizens, all collaborating to ensure a safe, secure climate future, through genuine democratic process, this month I was hired as Strategic Coordinator. I don’t think it would be possible to find a more rewarding and inspired group of people to work with on a day to day basis, and the work itself allows me the blessed experience of using my abilities to help others to be the constructive future-builders they long to be.

Continue reading “Citizens Climate Lobby: A Peaceful Army of Citizens Doing Good”

The Subtle Gravity of Mandela’s Gift

20131206-081133.jpgNelson Mandela has died. The news comes across, by any medium, from any lips, as something we have to pause to consider with awe and disappointment. It was a privilege to share some of the time this great soul lived on this Earth, and it is a sad day for the world that he is no longer among us. The reasons for this are much talked of, but the subtle gravity of his gift to us may still be too little understood.

We know of the persecution he suffered, the atrocious and unconscionable treatment he endured, only because a cruel regime wanted to silence his principled cry for justice and fair treatment. We know of his commitment to tolerance and inclusion, and the unshakeable wisdom with which he pushed that vision, not only in his own country, but into the wider world.

Continue reading “The Subtle Gravity of Mandela’s Gift”

Respect for Complexity Makes Democracy Possible

We’ve all had conversations where someone has fallen into the temptation to argue that simplicity is the most necessary quality for anything that can stand the test of time. But the natural world builds resilience into systems of all kinds by fostering unrelenting complexity; the key feature that makes complexity work is the intelligence with which diverse and competing interests fit together to achieve the wider aim of standing up against external threats, decay and decline.

In the landscape of public policy, this means rethinking our attitude about the problematic complexity inherent in dealing independently with a wide variety of diverse and competing stakeholder interests. It is, of course, easier for those who have to decide what adjustments to make, regarding any policy or practice, to exclude most stakeholders and only answer the needs of those whose interests fit simply and comfortably with their own. But then, that is not democracy.

Continue reading “Respect for Complexity Makes Democracy Possible”

Fear of Difference is Opposition to Democracy

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. It is a nation that has wrestled with vicious undercurrents of racism and xenophobia, and has emerged ever more democratic, generally trending toward a more perfect union representing the foundational ideals that were, in the 18th century, so far out of reach, but so necessary as core aspirations. And over time, it is a nation that has become richer, stronger and more democratic, by getting closer to those foundational ideals.

In advocating for the most effective way to form a new democratic nation in Argentina, Juan Bautista Alberdi wrote that Argentina should follow the example of the United States and encourage major waves of immigration, because the resulting society, with a large population, with diverse backgrounds and a commitment to building something new, will make for a more sustainable and democratic republic.

Continue reading “Fear of Difference is Opposition to Democracy”