Subject: Reflections on Halifax

The following was posted by Ed Schwartz to a number of large Lists.  
Best regards,
Bernie Hart.
This past weekend, I attended a great conference in Halifax convened by
"Telecommunities Canada"  aimed at bringing people from the Canadian
provinces together to explore making Canada "the most connected country in
the word," in the words of a federal official who spoke to the group. . The
strong partnership between Canadian government and the community networking
movement there--along with the sophistication of the movement in general--
was impressive...And Halifax is a great place to visit.

My involvement in this conference grew out of my work on civic-values and
other activities online. It was another little piece of evidence that the
Internet is a potent vehicle to bring people together, even across national
boundaries.  A number of "Telecommunities Canada" participants are now
subscribers here. 

Moreover, beyond discussing online communications, we also explored many of
the issues related to community building and democracy that we discuss
here. As an example: there's a fascinating struggle unfolding in Toronto
right now that I hope can become part of our ongoing dialogue. As a sneak
preview, I now have a "Committee for Local Democracy" button that has
become the rallying cry for a broad-based citizens' movement there,

I came away from the trip feeling that perhaps it's time to modify my own
singularly US perspective on this list. Clearly, the notion of fulfilling
the "civic values" of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the
general welfare; government of, by, and for the people must remain our
primary concerns. But Halifax brought forcefully home to me these are now
guiding principles for democratic movements all over the world. Moreover,
movements to  expand citizen  participation, build community among diverse
groups, help the disadvantaged achieve first-class citizenship, and fight
the abuses of corporate power are being raised throughout the world in
roughly similar terms.

Last week, just before I left, I received the following note from a leader
in the African National Congress in South Africa. 

"I have read with interests your concept of "Social Contract" which
resembles our project here is South Africa called " MASAKHANE ( A Zulu
meaning for "LET US BUILD TOGETHER") I am particularly interested in the
your Project "Neighbourhood Budget Project" which involves the community in
the City Budget. We have been attemtping to promote this practive at the
level of Local government, and I am wondering if you could provide with
more information on this projects. Perhaps, this could be the beggining of
collaborative efforts in this area?.

thanks for your attention. Hope to hear from you soon"

I responded quickly here, and do hope that I hear back from them soon.
There were several representatives from South Africa at the Halifax
conference who talked about other projects of this kind. Again, the
language and struggle for democracy has become universal:

So the bottom line is that perhaps it's time to define our mission here as
world-wide. I learned a great deal from learning how our Canadian friends
are tackling the problems we spend time discussing here. I  have a feeling
we could all learn a great deal from broadening our conversation in this way..

What do you think?