Freedom 2022

The world is in a parlous state and every day the news is more alarming, unfathomable, horrifying, heart-wrenching. Many people, including Prince William, have said, “We feel so helpless.”

We all wish there was something more immediate and more significant that we could do to support Ukraine and foster peace, but I believe even the small gestures that we make to show solidarity and to support democracy are important. It’s encouraging to note that out of this tragic conflict there has emerged a greater consciousness of the importance of democracy and the need for us to promote and protect it.

The behaviour of protesters at the Ottawa occupation has caused us to think about our freedom to protest peacefully and the dangers that result when people abuse that freedom. People are talking about what democracy means. My friend Judith wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that Canada is committed to fundamental individual rights, “but also to our common interests, and to safeguarding civil society. It is a fine balance, and our governments don’t always get it right” and adds that “There are very few countries that will give you the freedoms and guarantees you enjoy right here.” 

We need to protect this freedom. There are many small acts we can take. Some of us are writing letters, signing petitions, lobbying for civics classes be taught in the schools so that children grow up understanding how government works and developing an appreciation for democracy. As our Prime Minister stated recently, “Democracy never happens by accident. And, as we are reminded now, it certainly won’t continue without effort.”

Maybe one of the most important things we can do is to participate in what’s happening in our own communities. Nanaimo residents are invited to comment on our city’s draft official community plan which is now ready for review. Re-Imagine Nanaimo – is the product of a two-year community consultation and is a remarkable document, based on the doughnut economy model, that may serve as an inspiration for other communities. 

Nanaimo was the first city in Canada to adopt the doughnut model as a basis for planning, but this model has now been embraced by many other communities and cities in Canada and around the world. You can read about it here:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/04/the-new-economic-model-that-could-end-inequality-doughnut/

The draft plan, intended to guide future growth, is based on planning about transportation and mobility, climate action and resiliency, accessibility and inclusion, and parks, recreation and culture, as well as Nanaimo’s doughnut framework. The consultation process has resulted in these targe areas

  1. A Green Nanaimo – Resilient and Regenerative Ecosystems
  2. A Connected Nanaimo – Equitable Access and Mobility
  3. A Healthy Nanaimo – Community Wellness and Livability
  4. An Empowered Nanaimo – Reconciliation, Representation and Inclusion
  5. A Prosperous Nanaimo – Thriving and Resilient Economy

Here’s how you can give input:

https://www.nanaimo.ca/NewsReleases/NR220301FinalPhaseForREIMAGINENANAIMOUnderway.html

Not everyone will agree with the direction, but we’ve all had the opportunity to give input into the consultation process and we now have until April 8th to comment on the draft plan. Our feedback will influence how the draft plan proceeds.

The Re-Imagine Nanaimo process is a good example of democracy in action. We elected a city council that is committed to seeking community input. They’ve done their part and if we read and respond to the plan we will be doing our part to support the democratic process where we live.

The local level is where we can be most effective in making change. There are ripple effects to everything we do, and it strengthens us to take action where we can, even if it doesn’t seem to have an immediately significant effect.

I was inspired by recent courageous action in Lithuania, a country which is now very fearful of a Russian invasion. The mayor of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, officially changed the name of the street on which the Russian Embassy located. He re-named it “Heroes of Ukraine” Street. The Russian embassy is the sole occupant on that street and the mayor stated any mail not addressed with the new name will be withheld. The move also forces embassy staff to change the address on their business cards.

It’s heartening to see the spirit of brave people speaking up and taking action however they can.

Comment below or email me directly at wayword@telus.net 

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