Skip to main content

About

This blog is intended to equip subscribers and readers with the language, values, and tools to evoke new approaches to democracy and community governance. Evoke BC is a think tank: a research institute to explore new, innovative, and effective decision-making practices.

Central questions we'll explore here include:
  • How do our communities make decisions?
  • How should our communities make decisions? 
  • What will democracy look like in 50 years? In 100 years? 
Evoke BC is a group of people dedicated to sharing, exploring and supporting new approaches to democratic decision-making.

New concepts, ideas, and practices will be posted every two weeks - so check back often for the latest in community based democracy! 

Mark Friesen has a Master of Urban Studies degree from Simon Fraser University where he focused on governance and decision-making at the municipal scale. Mark works with nonprofit organizations in the design and implementation of stakeholder consultation projects, strategic planning engagements, organizational capacity assessments, and effective governance structures. He has a deep understanding and passion for democratic decision-making.


Katelyn McDougall has several years experience working with with non-profits, community research, communications, policy and service development, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Urban Studies degree at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on transportation finance and decision making within an intergovernmental context, and she has a keen interest in regional governance. She also works as a policy, research and public engagement consultant with a knack for facilitating discussion.

For questions, feedback, comments, or to get involved email us:
evokebc@gmail.com

Twitter: @evokebc

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Problem with Voting

Voting at the polls is a cornerstone of democracy today. When we think about, and understand, democratic participation, we imagine casting some kind of vote for some kind of person or issue in some kind of election.

Unfortunately, a focus on voting narrows the possibilities for democratic participation, which is really all about shared decision-making. Don't get me wrong, voting is important. It took us about 2500 years to set up voting as an actual mechanism to make decisions, and even now it's certainly not a widespread practice. The right to vote is a contested aspiration in many corners of the world, and we should support the right of each and every person to an equal voice in community decision making.

However, an exclusive focus on voting carries a significant risk. The concept of democracy is an aspiration; an aspiration to share decision-making, and to enable each other, as equals, to participate in decision-making. Decision-making cannot always be achieved with a sin…

Running for office: no experience necessary

There are moments when I hear people question the qualifications and experience of those who are running for, or hold, positions in office. Shouldn't there be some minimum, established, standard or criteria for holding a public position of power? Some minimum level of education?

The short answer is no. If we start looking to impose minimum standards or benchmarks other than: 1) residency, 2) adulthood* we've missed the whole point of democracy, and a critical part of what democracy means. A fundamental democratic principle is equality of voice, or equality of voting. Every person has decision-making power. This principle is based on the concept that not a single one of us is more qualified, or has any right, to impose decision-making or power over others, any more than they also have a right to impose decision-making or power over us.

By contrast, in other spheres of life, we want trained experts to hold some degree of decision-making power. For example, Doctors should probabl…

Why public hearings are terrible

It's a typical public hearing, and over a dozen speakers have arrived to speak for or against the proposed development. When called, each speaker heads up to the microphone and passionately relays their personal perspective on why the new development should, or should not, be permitted.

At the end of the hearing none of the speakers has changed their mind, and very few have learned anything new. Council makes their decision. Those who are aligned with the vote rejoice, while those opposed to the decision lament and decry the process as well as the decision.

A democratic exercise? Certainly doesn't feel like one. Public hearings are notorious for leaving council members exhausted, members of the public frustrated, and decisions that seldom seem connected to the proceedings themselves. This format and mechanism are partially products of our focus on democracy as accountability and equality of voice. At a public hearing, any resident can register to speak, and views are expressed…