Those of us who were hoping against hope for a change of heart by certain members of council last night all faced a hard lesson in a number of ways. For some it was that the best arguments don’t often win the day, for others it was the shocking display of naked one-upmanship, for a few it was about the anger at those councilors who would say anything to win an argument, but for me it was simply about one lesson.
I was amazed in the last 10 days at the generosity of friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers who rallied around the issues I was facing with my last two blog posts and the reaction by Councilor White and was often left speechless by the unqualified expressions of support and understanding. I am grateful to all of you who supported me through that difficult time but I also stood rapt by the power of the community to come together so quickly and with such focus around the issue of affordable housing which council was about to cut anyway.
In a matter of days we collectively went from vague unease to outright, full-blown advocacy on behalf of those in our city who could not be heard. I saw tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, and in person conversation that gathered together in numbers that the powers in City Hall heard clearly and could not be lightly ignored. We decided we would not stand for cuts that would leave behind our fellow citizens whether they had disabilities or needed a home. We knew and believed that London should be a city that was about our collective good not expedient cuts to justify a policy that our current circumstances had determined was no longer relevant. I was held rapt by the potential of community.
In the last year we have gone through a trial by fire in London and more and more of us are waking up to the fact that we are afraid for our future and that the only way to overcome this fear is to face it openly and transparently, to consider not just our own well-being but the wellbeing of every one of our neighbors as well. We are learning that the world has changed and the only way for us to succeed is to make sure no one is left behind and that the basics of housing, health, and dignity are not open to negotiation.
But because we create community at the speed of light, an idea expressed brilliantly by Glen Pearson, other things can as quickly distract us. Social Media as a means of community building is like quicksilver and flows along the path of least resistance and at this critical time we cannot afford to be distracted.
I am not assigning blame here, I often get as distracted quicker than most, but I am pointing out that we must understand our goals, focus our resolve, and not be distracted by anything until the issues of economic equality, environment, livability, intelligent growth, and fairness in London are achieved. Once we achieve them, and I have great faith in my community that we can, we cannot ever let them be taken away or watered down. This is not only about politics and running for office but is also about continually gathering an authentically engaged community and applying a steady tide of pressure to those who hold public office in our name so that they understand that we demand more than only our participation at the ballot box.
So I’m asking you all friends to think, to talk, to gather, to move forward, to not be distracted, and build upon the amazing accomplishment you all made in the last week. Let us decide to throw out the old ways of power, and create for ourselves and for our neighborurs a place that we can proudly say is city of opportunity for all.