In Pelham, our political landscape has been littered lately by accusations of conspiracies, hijackings, hidden agendas and elitism. How much better would it be if the picture was focused instead on images such as common vision, engaged citizenship, collaboration, and sustainable prosperity?
Just two weeks ago, the St. Catharines - Thorold Prosperity Council presented to St. Catharines City Council a long term economic vision plan that embraces all these vital developmental democracy principles. Who is this Prosperity Council? A volunteer advisory committee comprised of dedicated civic minded business and community leaders that was formed as a result of the combined initiative of the Mayor of St. Catharines and the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce.
In communities across the world civic-driven change is emerging as a compelling impetus for social and economic revitalization. The cities of St. Catharines and Thorold should be applauded for implementing such a fine model of civic agency. The members of the Prosperity Council have raised the bar of democratic citizenship demonstrating that as individuals we can participate in political processes not solely to promote self interests but also to accept the responsibility to be agents of change and purposefully collaborate and address common challenges.
Another poignant example of civic agency in action is the remarkable mobilizing success of the Barack Obama presidential campaign. His web site message can be transposed to say -"I'm asking you not only to believe in my ability to make change; I'm asking you to believe in yours." Campaign slogans such as "yes we can," and "we are the ones we've been waiting for," emphatically declare that a renewed era of social solidarity just may be on the horizon.
Democracy means more than just having the freedom to vote. It also means being part of a community and collaboratively interacting with and within our governmental institutions. Perhaps the time is right for a Prosperity Council in Pelham?