Creating space for transformative conversations

Building a Culture of Participation with Dave Meslin

2013 Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue

May 29 to May 30, 2013
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The 2013 Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue explored opportunities for empowering citizens in official City of Vancouver decision-making. The program featured Dave Meslin, one of Canada' most influential citizen engagement change-makers.

About Dave Meslin

Dave Meslin is one of Canada's most influential citizen engagement change-makers. His TED Talk has received almost one million views, and his work has helped cities revisit the myth of citizen apathy and confront the barriers that prevent community members from actively engaging in local politics. 

Meslin's ideas for civic reform, such as holding elections on weekends to increase voter turnout and making public notices more engaging, have received widespread coverage in the Globe and MailNational Post, Vancouver Sun and Toronto Star. A self-described "community choreographer," Meslin's grassroots projects have included the 2006 City Idol competition, a project that allowed everyday Toronto residents to present their vision for the city to a public audience. In a loose parody of Canadian Idol, the audience selected candidates to run for Toronto City Council with Meslin’s organizational backing.

Events 

  • Public lecture, presenting ideas from Meslin's groundbreaking project, The Fourth Wall, that empower residents to shape their cities far beyond the simple act of voting. Meslin stressed that effective and attractive branding is key to successful event promotion and can be a valuable tool for inviting citizen participation, given that public notices compete for attention with corporate advertising.
  • Invitational Workshop, bringing together City of Vancouver staff, members of the City's Engaged City Task Force and community members. Participants worked collaboratively in groups to design model engagement processes that could empower citizens in deciding the future of the False Creek South neighbourhood. Breakout groups were encouraged to consider aspects of engagement such as representation, accountability and City oversight. Each group pitched their final ideas to 3 panellists, followed by a short question and answer session.

Outcomes from the workshop, including a full description of the workshop design, presentations and breakout group ideas, are available in this final report.

A summary of Dave Meslin’s ideas is available in this short feature video produced for the visit. 

About the Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue

Exploring critical community issues through dialogue, this annual programming engages the community at large with the academic community to explore innovative approaches to local issues through cross-sectoral dialogue. 

Primary Organizer: 

 

Workshop Partners: