The second Community Gathering in David Coon’s Riding occurred on Saturday, January 17 in Ward 11, the ward that encompasses Downtown and College Hill and is represented by City Councillor Kate Rogers.
Residents escaped the winter cold to enter a warm community hall wafting with the scent of hot chili, coffee and tea, and fresh home-cooked foods prepared by community members. The frigid temperatures did not keep people away, and the Knights Of Columbus Hall was full to capacity as the meeting got underway.
Dennis Atchison once again facilitated the meeting in a World Cafe style. Participants were asked three questions:
What makes your neighbourhood great?
What would make it better?
How can we work together to make it happen?
Groups of 4-6 people sat at tables to discuss and brainstorm each question. After each discussion, someone from each table stood up to share their group’s ideas. In a musical chairs type shuffle, everyone switched tables for each of the three questions. As a result, participants had several opportunities to meet new people from their community each time they switched tables, or as they chatted between discussions.
The beauty of this method is that everyone has a chance to speak and be heard, ideas can come from unexpected quarters, and the results can often be surprising, spontaneous and unexpected. It provides an opportunity for people who care about the same things and live in the same communities to connect with each other and make things happen. It is also an important venue for constituents to have direct access to their representatives. In short, it is an opportunity for people to hear from each other, and to be heard by their elected representatives.
The success of any meeting is never decided until well after the final chairs are put away. Follow up is as important, if not more, than the actual meeting itself. This is where Action Items come into play. Meeting notes have been assembled, compiled and sent out to all participants who provided their contacts; listed within that report were “Action Items”: projects and goals that arose from the brainstorming session. All participants have been invited to sign up for at least one Action Item, and to connect and organize with each other to work together towards achieving these goals. David Coon and Kate Rogers have also committed to following up on this meeting through actions they can take at the Legislative and City Council levels.
In this way, change can occur through both the community grassroots level and the official channels of government. The goals and decisions of the people represented by David Coon and Kate Rogers will have more resonance and reach through these Community Gatherings.
Don’t miss the next Community Gathering in Fredericton South: Saturday, March 21, Ward 10 (West Plat, Sunshine Gardens, and the Lower Hill) with Councillor John MacDermid. Location as yet to be decided.
These Open Space type meetings appear to be catching on, as the provincial government has begun public consultations on its budget over the next few weeks. Like the Community Gatherings, these meetings will also follow the World Cafe format.
Check out the CTV coverage of the meeting: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=533036
Make sure you’re connected and engaged. Sign up for our mailing list (on the right panel of this website), check out David Coon’s Facebook. And keep posted through his Youtube Channel. There are lots of ways to keep connected with your MLA.
By Taeyon Kim, Constituency Coordinator, Fredericton South