Lack of knowledge can definitely lead to lack of engagement within our community. How many times in the last few months have I heard from friends and residents, ‘I can’t vote’, ‘I will not vote’ and ‘I am not sure if I should be voting this year just because I don’t have time to do my research’. I am partially pleased with the answer because it is not ignorance that prevents people from voting. Perhaps it is simply a lack of knowledge that results from a lack of time to do the research. Many claimed not enough convenient resources were available. Very few would ignore the election topic maybe just because they didn’t want to know and they truly were not interested; however, in my opinion they also didn’t know how much difference they could make.
Perhaps for the next election we will find more effective and attractive ways to communicate with residents of Aurora and engage residents as that seemed to be the main concern. I am anticipating that we will be more environmentally friendly for the next municipal election and candidates will reduce the number of election signs around the town. Four years to think about this green initiative. Perhaps one day we will find the ultimate way to effectively communicate everything to our residents for greater engagement.
In the next four years before the next municipal election there will be definitely more engagement in social media and technology will drive the way we communicate with each other. I am hoping for more active writers to raise awareness and drive the next level of engagement, especially in politics and the town’s decision making. We definitely could do better.
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” ~ Ban Ki-moon
It is unfortunate that our town’s history includes a lawsuit against bloggers. Not all bloggers are nasty. I really think that the lawsuit worked against us and put blogging into remission for a few years. There was and is definitely still a residual fear stopping many from writing their opinions publicly or blogging. I think there might have been a great potential for us to blossom through blogging and to engage more residents in politics and open up issues for discussion, but that was shuttered for some time. It was so shuttered that even local organizations would refrain themselves from writing or blogging on their sites. Only a few continued to be very vocal but we need more voices to raise awareness to engage more residents in our decision making.
Communication is the key to community engagement. What we communicate and how clearly we communicate impact the effectiveness of engaging the community in local politics and decision making. Taking the time to empower residents is even better, yes even better.
The latest example I could think of is the ‘clear garbage bag’ initiative that is starting to be implemented by the Town of Aurora. Definitely a clear bag program may be a great environmental initiative with guaranteed results; however in my opinion the town could make the initiative less confusing and more compelling to our residents by sharing information on research and analysis related to the Town of Aurora. Instead, the town appears to be modeling this initiative based on other municipalities. The current marketing campaign offers no supporting background research based on the Town of Aurora and there does not appear to be any plan to provide those facts and studies. That is the danger of shallow marketing campaigns; they can tell us nothing yet at the same time they can be very believable.
I am a little perplexed with the town’s educational approach. They seem to be focused on telling us the benefits of clear bags first and presumably they will follow with reminders on how to divert garbage as per the set guidelines. Wouldn’t it be better to educate us on the importance of waste management sorting first and then if necessary implement and educate us on the benefits of clear bags? Something tells me that they are putting the cart before the horse. In fact, the Town of Aurora already has a very good guide on waste management and recycling, they just have to bring it to the surface and remind us more regularly. Why re-invent the wheel? Everything is in place, it just needs to be put in the right place.
UPDATE: The controversial Town of Aurora Clear Garbage Bag program was never implemented due to strong public opposition.
Anna Lozyk Romeo