Changing relationships

February 3, 2015

What does it mean to be an urban citizen in the 21st century?  What does it mean for our relationship with our local government?

Last Halloween, a constituent sent me a photo with his smart phone of a squashed pumpkin lying at the curb in front of his house. He expected (and that is putting it politely) a public works crew to drop what they were doing immediately and attend to its clean up. Too bad his green waste bin wasn’t part of the photo or the picture.

With more of us living in cities, we look to local governments to fix everything – city officials are much closer than their provincial and federal counterparts. In the age dominated by consumer politics, the role of government has been reduced to a superficial transaction – you put your money in, and get a service out.  But a vending machine is not going to deliver the solutions to complex issues like affordable housing, poverty, and climate change.

Nor will local governments be able to meet the increasing demands for services or solve complex issues alone.  They will have no choice but to learn how to partner with others – governments, businesses, civil society and individuals – for solutions that will build a more resilient, healthy and sustainable future for urban life and the planet.

A new relationship will have implications for everyone – sometimes it might be as simple as shoveling a squashed pumpkin into your green waste bin for pick up later in the week.