One or two of you may know that I was the mover and the shaker, the power broker behind the beautiful face, the king maker that allotted the authority, influence and the might behind Calgary's municipal election.
Even fewer will know that Mayor Nenshi regularly requests my advice on how to set policy.
The irony is I may appear to be the smart assed class clown that only shoots off a joke from the back row, but in all honesty the previous statements are both overblown and true. I did rally to the purple banner, I did make my opinion known and it did create positive results. And there is no question that His Worship (I may be giggling when I write that) has stayed in touch with citizens after the election. Hardly just me alone, but with all citizens of the city. No, he and I are not bosom buddies, but one of these years when I least expect it he's going to reply to something either really cool or really inane that I have to say and that is an amazing feeling. It's surreal to think that the Mayor is following me on twitter and has been for ages..
I really like the feeling that I accomplished something cool - something that I feel was better for Calgarians as a whole. And that doesn't mean the work is done at all, but I've had an opportunity to not only express my views, but they have found a home with a lot of people who feel the same way I felt. Including, but certainly not limited to, Naheed Nenshi. So I've been happy to take up the challenge of some of those people I've come to trust and try to find a way to engage more with my city.
I'm participating with my community centre. I'm paying attention to city hall. I'm sending messages to our aldermen - although not my alderman, I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to tackle that little issue.
My favourite idea to date was creating @BetterYYC. The idea came from Nenshi's slogan, "Better Ideas, Better Calgary." Because I believe those ideas really are better and will truly make for a better city. And BetterYYC is just a more twitter style of brevity.
Credit for the basic idea comes from DJ Kelly. "Take ownership to make the change, don't wait for permission." Do something, do anything, just stay engaged and working on something within your sphere of influence to make better. Don't overwhelm yourself, just find one thing you can do, then go do it.
I'm working on a couple of premises here:
- You have to observe your community. Whether your block or the city as a whole, if you can't spot something that needs changed, you can't make a difference.
- You have to complain. I don't talk much on this point, but if you're not complaining, you don't care enough to act. But don't stop there...
- You have to actually perform an act of positive change. Complaining about the situation means nothing unless you're willing to put your nose to the grindstone and put some effort into it. Please note that I specify positive change. Some things we do can have unintended consequences. If we create new problems, they have to be acted upon as well.
- You have to talk about it. Personally I hate talking about it. I'm a private guy and I don't talk a lot about what I do. We have to share our ideas and plan what's next.
I've been tweeting basic ideas of what I've been trying to accomplish. I've retweeted good ideas I've run across from others. I mean to be very non-judgmental about what makes a #BetterYYC -- if you think your action makes Calgary Better in a way that matters to you, that's good enough for me, we need to hear about it! We can discuss it afterwards. Also, please note that I can't do everything I post either. I'm not Superman nor am I as wealthy as Bruce Wayne - but somebody can step up and do some of them and that would be great if it happened too.
Now here's my conundrum. (For city council -- noun: A confusing and difficult problem or question.) Subsequent to the election, the Better Calgary Campaign has become reinvigorated and seems to be reactivating. Or at the very least, it's getting more coverage to the point where I've become aware of it again. Which makes sense because if they're going to be a watchdog on City Hall, they needed to wait for the election to finish and the new edition of city council to get back to work.
I very much like the idea of Better Calgary. I have heard of them before and although not personally involved (yet?) I certainly like their message of being engaged with what happens with municipal politics. I have already expressed that I believe Better Calgary intersects with a large portion of what I want to accomplish with my #BetterYYC idea.
But I don't want to step on toes and I don't want to muddy the waters. Or heaven forfend, obfuscate the purpose of what #BetterYYC meant to me in the first place. Picking up a bag of garbage from your neighbourhood does not have a direct role with municipal governance, but it most certainly makes Calgary a better place to live. I could change to #1GoodDeedYYC or something similar, but the opinions expressed today have been to carry on and stay with the short, inclusive hashtag.
Which leads to my second thought. My unwritten rule, at least up to right now, is that if you state your idea to make Calgary a better place @BetterYYC you've gotten a Retweet. And if I've stumbled across an idea I thought was pretty good, I'd RT that as well. But if you don't tag #BetterYYC or #YYC in your tweet, you're relying on me finding it. Unlike the perception I'm on twitter 24/7, I tend to glance over on occasion more than reading intensively these days. Frankly, I'm just not that good at finding all the great ideas on my own.
Be it proposed that @BetterYYC continue as #BetterYYC.
Be it proposed that the primary focus of #BetterYYC be broadly recognized as entailing any positive action that makes Calgary a better city in which to live.
Be it proposed that @BetterYYC will remain a place to RT ideas, actions and communication about how we as citizens make Calgary a better place to live.
Sound good so far? One last question, should I retain my iron-fisted control of @BetterYYC or should I open up the account to others willing to abide by the basic premise and share the load? It's no problem when people use the #BetterYYC hashtag - perhaps the solution is just generating more suggestions from you.
In reality, the ultimate goal is to make Calgary better, and that responsibility is shared amongst us all.