What we need is a new model of citizenship based on the act of participation itself, not on some quality or thought or right enjoyed by its possessor.  This participatory citizenship doesn't simply demand action from existing citizens; it makes action at once the condition and the task of citizenship.                                                                                                       Mark Kingwell author The World We Want

Uploading: When citizens and communities require their governments to give them the enabling policies and resource levers to do what they do best which is to lead the creation of a more just society, and improve how we take care of each other and our environment.   When civil society determines what is 'wrong' and figures out the most appropriate solutions and partnerships to our societal problems.

Downloading: When governments cut back on programs and services they fund or deliver without consultation or accompanying resources and enabling infrastructure . When government expects community to take up the slack without giving them increased powers.  When communities and groups remain as agents of government, solving problems within parameters established by government.

Uploading increases our capacity to be caring, innovative and responsive.  It enables citizens and community groups to set the agenda, define the priorities as we see them and to solve them the way we want to. It increases our accountability to each other, rather than to funders. It enables us to partner with government and business institutions as equals rather than as dependent grant recipients.

Downloading decreases our capacity to be creative, innovative and responsive.  It reinforces institutional definitions of the problem and forces us to accept their solutions.  It diminishes our responsibility to each other causing us to focus on funders and their priorities.

Uploading is for citizens, groups and societies who think for themselves, who are not sitting idly by waiting for someone else to do something but are in fact already responding to challenges.  Uploading is for those who believe government has encroached on community territory and want their methods and means returned to them.  Uploading is for those who want to restore the power of citizens to act together for the common good.

Downloading is for those who believe government should handle everything. While they might criticize and complain about government decisions, they still expect government to set the direction and to take full responsibility for fixing social and environmental problems.

It's not downloading when we require our governments  to give us the tools we need to keep the best staff; equip ourselves with the best technology; invest in innovation and attract resources to spread our proven solutions.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan is uploading.  It is increasing the capacity of individuals with disabilities to accumulate financial assets, increase their financial well being and multiply contributions by their families and friends.

The Recommendations of the Social Finance Task Force are uploading. When implemented they will attract new sources of private capital which will increase the impact of social enterprises and social purpose businesses.

The British Columbia Government's proposed amendments to allow for hybrid financing structures is uploading.  It will enable social enterprises to attract financial investors and access capital that is currently not available to the social enterprise sector.


2 Comments

  1. Donna Thomson

    Great post, Al and I appreciate your differentiating between these two approaches. The thing that bothers me though, is Kingwell’s quote on action and citizenship. I always struggle with this idea (Kingwell isn’t the only important public intellectual who places action at the heart of citizenship). Where does this idea leave those with disabilities who are incapable of action? How might an upload/download thinking process applied to this problem look? I think it’s too simplistic to argue “contribution of being” which I think is rather offensive anyway, because it places assessing all the contribution in “the eye of the beholder”. Your thoughts?

  2. Al Etmanski

    Hi Donna – I’ve had many discussions with Mark about this very point – in fact it is how we met. He includes and imagines a range of contributions – well beyond traditional actions. In the context of ‘uploading’ the assumption is that everyone needs to be engaged in creating the society we want.

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What we need is a new model of citizenship based on the act of participation itself, not on some quality or thought or right enjoyed by its possessor.  This particpatory citizenship doesn't simply demand action from existing citziens; it makes action at once the condition and the task of citizenship.       Mark Kingwell, The World We Want

Uploading: When citizens and communities assert their creativity and innovation to tackle our tough social and environmental  challenges.  When they determine what is 'wrong' and figure out the most appropriate solutions. When citizens and communities require their governments to give them the tools and resources to complete the  'social infrastructure' that enables the civil sector to do what it does best – leading the creation of a just society, and imroving how we take care of each other and our environment.

Downloading: When governments cut back on programs and services they fund or deliver without consultation or accompanying resources and enabling infrastructure . When government expects community to take up the slack.  When commuities and groups remain as agents of government solving problems within parameters defined by government.

Uploading increases our capacity to be creative, innovative and responsive.  It enables citizens and community groups to set the agenda define the challenges as we see them and to solve them the way we want to. It makes us accountable to each other.When they partner with government and business institutions to spread their proven solutions.

Downloading decreases our capacity to be creative, innovative and responsive.  It reinforces institutional definitions of the problem and forces us to accept their solutions.  It diminishes our responsibility to each other.

Uploading is for citizens, groups and societies that think for themselves, want to decide what the problems and challenges are.  Uploading is for those who believe a vital source of creativity and innovation  to respond to challenging times and problems resides among individuals, social networks and community groups. Uploading is for those who believe government has encroached on community territory and wants their methods and means returned to them.  Uploading is for those who want to restore the power of citizens to act together for the common good.

Downloading is for those who want government to take responsibility for funding, While they might gripe and complain, essentially believe it is governnet's responsibility to take care of vulnerable people  Who accept that governmnet's are best positionned to define the pronblems and to determine the solutions.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan is uploading – increasing the capcity of individuals their families and friends to look after each other.

The Recommendations of the Socail Finance Task Force are uploading

The BC Governmnet's cosndieration of hybrid financiang structure

It's not downloading when we require our governmnet to reduce the barriers to creatively tackling our challenges.  Or to give us some of the tools we need to invest in attracting and keeping the best staff; equiping ourselves with the best technical tools and spreading our solutions. an nurturing our innovation and creativity

Uplaoding assumes the citizens, individuals and families and community are not sitting idly by waiting for someone else to but are in fact

Downloading assumes we can't act unless governmnet or funders give us the green light, or the funds.

As government face budget crunches, areparalyzed by indecision or are  slow to respond to emerging challenges the real trick to to discern which policies, regulations, incentives are downloading and which are uploading. Perhaps we need an adaptation of the Serenity Prayer

May I have the courage to tackle the things that need to be changed; the wisdom to invite others as partners and the serenity to accept the ambiguity.

creativity to change the things I can, the serenity to cooperate and the wisdom and maturity

 

Without a strong notion of commitment to other people and our shared undertakings, without a sense that we are together creating a just world, a world not ruled by cheap acceptance of inevitability or the easy superiority of wealth, our hard- won individualism loese its deeper significance. Mark Kingwell, author The World We Want

It looks like the era of continued governmnet financial cuts will continue.  There are a variety of pressures on governmnet budgets. Some comng on the expenditure side.  Some coming on the revenue side.  For example as the baby boomers start to retire they will contribute less in tax revenue, meaning a smaller overall financial pie.

 

 

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