Sunday, May 15, 2005

Day of dialogue, but where's the action?

In December, 2004, the Amsterdam mayor, Job Cohen, green-lighted a city-wide, town hall meeting style event, called the "dag van dialoog"(day of dialogue).

Reason for public consultation: Theo van Gogh, liberal vitalist, insultant, murdered by extremist
calling into question the policies of the city and country regarding living together under the philosophy of multiculturalism.

Where was it held? Mosques, coffeeshops, police stations, cafes, and more.

Format? 6 people per table, with one moderator. Questions introduced and passed round table. Once it did a round and some discussion had taken place the next question passed round. We were all asked to make suggestions for providing solutions for the city. Each groups's commments and solutions were passed on to the mayor's office.

Analysis of Results
Suggestions put forward by the people were presented to the Mayor. 3 ideas were chosen in Jan 2005 as winners by the local government. I was randomly enough a member of one of these groups. A young 13 year old activist from a local high school came up with our winning idea. So we went to a ceremony where awards were given out, hands shaken and photographs shot for the local news. A big success. Right? Wrong.

It's now May. We have not received any email/telephone communication from the city about this project. We were supposed to coordinate and organize to execute the project together. So what happened? Well it's that classic government failure: bureaucracy and good intentions backed up by a poor response time. If i pay for a product or service i usually get some service. Why is is that parts of the government are still so lost in red tape, and screw up their own success with a lousy response time? It's only 10,000 euro for 3 teams. We pay our government a shit load of tax euro/dollars and where is the delivery?

So I left the project.........

I can do more good for my local community alone than with any good-intentioned government process. I also resent the fact that the decision making team is the government and not open-source to the citizens. It is sad to say that every experience i have had with government recently has been well-intentioned but somehow out-of-step with how to really unlock people power. So here's me signing off and going back to designing my own version of Democracy 2.0 , a little more jaded.Why should I have to lower my expectations just because i'm dealing with government? I resent the mindset that says "cut the government some slack as they are government".
That's just "doe maar gewoon" (i.e. not striving for excellence). As we speak there is another day of dialogue up and coming. My advice would be to open source the selection of the winners and execute as soon as possible.We had so much energy and it went to waste.....