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.