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Drafts - Politics

Page history last edited by Alana Power 10 years, 11 months ago

Introduction and BikeCamp – Conal and Andrea – about 2:00 long

In two thousand three, Margaret Hasting-James took to the roads on her bike. Fed up with the overcrowded Toronto transit system, she found a faster and less frustrating way to get around.

One day while she was riding her bike, a large delivery truck pulled up alongside her. As they approached an intersection, the truck turned right... right into Margaret.


CLIP: "Luckily it was moving slow enough that I had time to roll out before the back wheels crushed me, but my bike was caught up in the undercarriage and the guy kept driving for like 50 meters with like sparks flying out. my bike was completely totalled."


Margaret hadn't done anything wrong. She was following the rules of the road... and it almost got her killed. The driver was charged with dangerous driving, but for Margaret, that wasn't enough.


"He was found to be at fault. But if I died, who cares whose fault it is, I'm dead."


Hoping things will change isn't good enough. You have to get involved. And that's what Margaret did. She joined the Toronto Cyclists' Union, and is now a member of the Toronto Cylcling committee.

In October 16th Margaret was an organizer for Bike Camp. An event which brought together politically-savy cyclists.

Their goals: to plan a campaign agenda for Toronto's 2010 municipal election. To gather support from the community. And to educate people about bike issues. 

Hundreds gathered at the Centre for Social Innovation to share ideas and democratically choose what projects to work on.


Margaret moderated brainstorming sessions throughout the day. She delegated responsibilities and challenged people to do more.  


She's taking charge and working to make her community a better place. Margaret's a changemaker.

Welcome to the Politics episode of the maker culture podcast, co-published by Rabble.ca and The Tyee.ca.

I'm your host Katie Atkinson

and I'm Conal Pierse.

In this series we're exploring people who are embracing the do-it-yourself ethos and changing our world in the process.


Today we'll be looking at how ordinary people can make a difference in their homes, communities, and countries -- reimagining the political process one voice at a time.

Local London activists script – Katie Atkinson- roughly 4:33 long


London, Ontario is home to roughly 450 000 individuals.

It's also becoming the home to more activists.


In London, Ontario activism is on the rise.


The London Activist Assembly is an up and coming organization in London.


It all started when a group of Western students were part of another club on campus that was supposed to focus on social justice issues.


But some club members felt the university's student council placed too many rules on the group because it was viewed as a radical club.


So what did the frustrated members do? They formed their own group, one that's not affiliated with the university: the London Activist Assembly.


Created in September, the assembly has now grown to fifty members.


Many are either current Western students, or Western graduates, so the assembly focuses on issues that relate to university like high tuition fees.


But the group is also working to promote environmental sustainability and independent media in London.


Heather Graham is a founding member of the London Activist Assembly.


She says it's not always easy being an activist because of the stereotypes associated with the role:


CLIP – runs 0:15

“Generally speaking the activist community is underground for a lot of it, it's not out in the open. It's not well received by a lot of the public. I think that networking has taken large steps in the last couple of years to really bring a lot of the activist groups together.”


The London Activist Assembly does a lot of networking by hosting weekly pot lucks.


Everyone is welcome and the group uses the gatherings to socialize and try to get people interested in being a part of it.


So what's the big deal with activism anyways?


Graham explains why she thinks activist activity is so important:


CLIP – runs 0:35

“Alice Walker said that “Activism is my rent for living on this planet” which I think is wonderful. There's also a feminist quote by Audrey Lord that says “The master's tools can never dismantle the master's house” meaning that you have to work outside of the system in order to change it, and, and to make real impacts on it. You can't work within it. Where ever you are you take the issues that are important to you into your own hands and not rely on systems that are often corrupt and don't have the interests of humans first.”


The London Activist Assembly isn't the only activist group in town.


It also isn't the only London activist group that hosts weekly pot lucks.


Empowerment Infoshop is another group in London that promotes social justice and human rights issues.


Every Wednesday, at its headquarters in downtown London, Empowerment Infoshop hosts a pot luck and many activists attend.


Alex Balch from Common Cause London is often seen at these pot lucks.


Balch describes Common Cause as a group that “tries to establish a respectable name for anarchism.”


CLIP – runs 0:17

““Common Cause we actually pay dues, so it's more of an actual organization. It's sort of almost structured like a union than you would actually expect. It's sort of not what most people would have in mind when you think of an anarchist organization, some people think that that idea is an oxymoron.”


But Anthony Verberckmoes, another member of Common Cause London, says not all anarchist groups are as formal as Common Cause.


Verberckmoes adds, however, that anarchist actions are becoming more visible in society. He says anarchism is on the rise:


CLIP – runs 0:39

“In the last ten years or so, since the Seattle protests definitely, but in broad ways not always organized like Common Cause. Things like Food Not Bombs, Indie media, punk music.... Anti-racist action is an informal group that's spread everywhere. Like in conservative places, like in London even there's active resistance to racist and fascist actions locally.... That's all anarchist influenced.”


So, anarchism is on the rise, but why should people be interested in the anarchist movement?


Balch explains why he thinks anarchism is so important.


CLIP – runs 0:13

“But anarchism, you know, to you -ism is sort of just a suffix that you add, so anarchism is not really rigid, it's not really an ideology, and there's lots of space for experimentation and it's roots sort of just fit with what a lot of us perceive as the problems with the world today.”


With the growing number of activists and social justice groups in London, it's obvious that many Londoners are taking political situations into their own hands.


London's become a city where changemakers are taking stands against the problems they see in the world today.  



Politcs Maker Culture- CSI section. 3:44

Coming up with new political ideas doesn't guarantee chage. Someone can have the best idea in the world, but if they keep it to themselves, it won't make a difference. It wont make the world a better place. People need to come together to share ideas in order for movements to catch on and changes to occur. In Toronto there's an office building that understands the need for collaboration. It's called the Centre for Social Innovation or the CSI for short. It opened in two-thousand three as a physical version of online networking spaces like Facebook. Now, over one hundred and fifty social organizations work out of the building. The CSI is different from other office buildings, because it emphasizes sharing. Sharing space, sharing resources and sharing information and ideas.

Mark Kuznicki is one of the tenants at the building. He's been there for two and a half years.



".why come to csi mark"


One of the more recent projects that's come out of the CSI is OpenData Toronto. Kuznicki's a key organizer of this movement that launched its website in November two thousand nine. The site gives citizens access to the city of Toronto's official data- from apartment standards to solid waste management districts. So you might be thinking how does OpenData benefit citizens?



OUTQ:..."The open data movement really describes a movement for governments to open up the data that the public funds and ultimately owns back to the public. In an open access and machine readable format. So what that means is that data is available for people to analyze and produce new analyses or new kinds of reporting on what's actually happening. It also provides an opportunity for web developers to take that data and create new applications, create new services. Governments don't have the funding, the budget the capabilities the technological capacity to build all of these applications on all of these different devices. So it's a way of really getting data out into much more useful forms to regular people but it's going to be developers turning the raw data into something useful."


"...open data movement mark........."

Opening things up to the public is a central idea of the CSI. The building operates on an open space concept. Tenants can access common areas and the CSI has a hot desk package for people who want to rent out a desk for fixed periods of time. It's a new approach to life at the office and as Judy Rebick says, it's a new approach to making political change.



OUTQ:..."I think the centre for social innovation is one of the places that are trying to do social change in a different way. And I think they make a good contribution. What the CSI is doing is very good because they create a space for discussion and dialogue and they're supporting a lot of groups who are contributing to making change."


"...CSI judy rebbick........."

That was Judy Rebick. Her latest book called Transforming Power talks about different political movements led by ordinary citizens hungry for chage. One of those movements is the democratic revolution in Bolivia which is what we're going to talk about next. Changmakers on an international scale.




OUTQ:..."coming into the centre for social innovation was for me really important in terms of finding like minded people and also people that I could collaborate with because there's so many free agent free lance and small organizations that are all in one space and so that's what the centre is here to do. to colocate a lot of people that want to make a difference and hopefully from that spawn off collaborations and projects and ideas or exchange of knowledge and capabilities that you wouldn't normally have if you're working from home or in a traditional kind of office space."



Makerculture Politics - Bolivia Episode rough draft. Runs roughly 5:30


In Canada’s last election there was less than sixty per cent voter turnout. Some say Canadians have developed an apathy to the political process, they feel removed from it and don’t think that anything they do will effect change.

One group in Toronto is showing Canadians that if we participate in our democratic process change is possible. Toronto Bolivia Solidarity is going to Bolivia in December, to document the elections in the country. Bolivia has undergone what some people are calling a democratic revolution. In 2005 they elected their  first indigenous president, Evo Morales. He won a majority of over fifty per cent, which brought his party the Movement Towards Socialism, also known as the MAS to power. He was successful because of his backing by the indigenous people and social movements that have made Bolivia a true participatory democracy.

In January the Bolivian people approved a new constitution. It gives the indigenous people more power and representation in the Bolivian government. Juan Valencia is a member of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity. He spoke about the reforms at the event “Bolivia: Indigenous People Take the Lead” in Toronto on November thirteenth.  (1.11)

Take SOT: Bolivia 6: (first bit starts at 18:53) (second part 19:40 – 20:26)

“So in that occasion the referendum was approved so the new government is going to act in a new constitution where all the rules are changed… Elect 130 deputies and 36 senate members, out of those the new constitution enacts that by law we have to have 8 elected indigenous people from the different indigenous groups of the country. It’s a big change… clapping… it’s very important because before this government and years before we starting having democracy processes indigenous people were not represented even though they represent the majority of the country.

Valencia wants Canadians to know that change is possible.

TAKE SOT: Bolivia 6: 22:31 – 22:58 (this one will need some editing)

Our connection with the Canadian people is that the story of Bolivia to Canada is you know these little things could happen it’s not unreal, it’s a challenge a demonstration people organized conscious people politically aware of their rights or what is best for the majorities they can make a change.

Raul Burbano is also a member of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity. He was part of a team that travelled to Bolivia in January to document the referendum. He is going back in December with other members of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity to make a documentary about the election.  He thinks that Bolivia is a good example of people taking things into their own hands.

Take SOT Bolivia 7 – 1:53 – 2:17

Bolivia is a wonderful example of it with the strong focus on the indigenous, the workers the women the students which are moving away from the traditional institutions, from the political parties from the religious institutions. Basically have said we are now going to determine our future for the first time since the Spaniards came and colonized the country.

He hopes that the documentary his group is making will encourage Canadians to become more active in the political process.

Take SOT: Bolivia 7 : 4:06 – 4:16

I think Canadians can learn a lot first from the concept of participatory democracy. In Bolivia we see a nation of social movements and people who are actually participating in their democracy.

He also thinks it is important to note that all of this change has been done peacefully.

TAKE SOT: Bolivia 7: 5:04 – 5:13

Historically latin America was plagued by war, guerilla movements so we’ve seen a transition to the ballot from the bullet basically.

Bolivians have rallied behind Evo Morales. He is part of a greater social movement that will effect change and hopefully create greater equality through the country.

Judy Rebick is a social justice activist and holds the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University.  She thinks that the situation in Bolivia has not received enough attention because the mainstream media cannot turn Evo Morales into a negative figure.

TAKE SOT: Rebick talks about Bolivia 0:14 – 0:41

“he’s humble, he’s indigenous, you know he’s made life much better for the poor, he’s nationalized electricity nationalized gas and oil. In some ways gone further than Chavez, but what’s more interesting is that his government is totally based on the mobilization of mass movements. He’s not an individual leader, he’s part of a movement. I think that if Bolivia got more publicity it would be so inspiring for people to want change and that’s why they don’t get it”

Professor Jose Antonio Lucero is an assistant professor of International Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. He has studied Bolivia for ten years, and thinks that the election of Evo Morales is part of a greater trend of indigenous mobilization that started as far back as the 1980's. He also says that he will be shocked if Morales does not win the upcoming election on December 6th.

Take SOT : Lucero Interview Bolivia: 15:34 – 16:02 and 16:28 – 16:41

“this is part of a trend of indigenous mobilization that goes back a long time to the 1980’s and 90’s in the moment when indigenous people began to organize in ways that were unprecedented. They became the most important social movement in the whole region, displacing traditional leftist movements like labour … Those things kind of worked to propel folks like evo morales into office. But it’s important not to see this as a top down phenomenon. It’s not like evo kind of descended from the heavens and rallied his people. He’s really the outcome of a long process of organizing and a long process of resistance that goes from the bottom up.”

Now the world can watch and wait to see if Evo Morales is re-elected in December. Lucero says he will be stunned if he isn’t.







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