I’ve been pretty busy working on election type stuff for the past few weeks – not for any candidates however – and so I haven’t had much of a chance to write on anything else. But I wanted to share some info with everyone about Reboot Alberta 3.
I’m happy to have been invited to help organize the upcoming event and I hope many of you that have found a new level of engagement in the October 18 Alberta-wide municipal elections will consider attending too.
What a great way to stay involved.
Below is a personal invitation to all of you regardless of your political leaning or potential party affiliation. Even if you’re a staunce moderate like me, I’m confident you’ll find the format and discussion useful.
An Open Invitation to Join Other Progressive-Minded Albertan at RebootAlberta 3.0, November 5-6, 2010 in Edmonton
Times have changed since the Alberta Advantage became the governing philosophy of the province. The attack on debt and deficits with a continuous lowering of taxes and downsizing of government was of another time. The new Alberta focus includes the integration of oil sands challenges and opportunities for our economy, environment and society. It includes a more active, informed and engaged citizens asking more questions and insisting on better answers.
What does responsible oil sands development look like? What must Alberta do to be sustainable in an uncertain world? Can we create an Alberta culture of adaptability, creativity and innovation? How can we protect and enhance our environment as we prosper from our natural resources? We have enormous natural resources and talented human resources but are we coasting and resting on our laurels? What are we leaving as our legacy to future generations of Albertans?
Alberta has the wealth to be one of the best places in the world. With all our blessings and potential we can aspire higher and strive to be the best place for the world. This will only happen if we can invest in our future by harnessing our resources, strengthening democracy and reviving servant leadership and re-engaging as citizens.
New research shows that 63% of everyday Albertans share the same progressive values as Reboot Albertans. There are enough of us to be a positive force for progressive change in our province. We can have significant influence over the direction of our province now and in the next election. But we must chose to get informed, intentional and active about reaching out, speaking out and making a difference. Progressive Albertans we can define design and deliver on a new Alberta Aspiration to be the best place for the world but first we have to commit to making a difference.
If you desire an Alberta that is progressive, moderate, prosperous and inclusive, you need to be at RebootAlberta3.0 November 5th and 6th in Edmonton. You will meet a growing community of concerned Albertans who believe the change we want starts with each of us re-engaging in our citizenship roles. You can start now by connecting with other progressive-minded Albertans and join in the movement atwww.rebootalberta.org. Or go to Facebook and join the Reboot Alberta group and find us Twitter with the hashtag #rebootab.
Reboot Alberta 2.0 is underway! Granted so far all we’ve done is mingle and drink at the bar while watching Olympic highlights and the Canada/Slovakia hockey game.
As part of Reboot Alberta I will be live tweeting the event. As an added challenge, not only will I be tweeting for my followers and myself, but I will also be tweeting for Metro Calgary and their readers.
Last week I was approached by Metro Calgary Managing Editor Darren Krause (who you can follow on Twitter here) about my willingness to participate in a journalistic experiment for his publication. Coming out of the Manning Centre Conference on the Alberta’s Future he was looking a way to potentially integrate information about events such as that and Reboot into a format that is interesting to his readers AND allows for ongoing, in the moment, updates from the conference.
There is something very different from writing a post event review. Theoretically this will allow readers to get the feel of what the event was like in the moment. So, the idea he had – the idea we are going to try to implement – is that I will live tweet the event and Metro will publish a selection of my tweets that provide the feel of the event in their Monday edition.
This obviously provides a bit of pause for me. Not only are my tweets going out to my 1,300 followers but they are also going out to Lord knows how many Metro readers. Will this change what I write? Maybe. I guess time will tell. At the very least it provides a more serious attention to Reboot Alberta’s Chatham House rules. These rules, which Reboot operates under, state that anything you hear can be repeated, but it can only be attributed with expressed permission.
So look out what you say around me! Who knows, it may end up in the paper. Just let me know if you want your brilliance attributed.
Finally, a big thanks the Darren Krause and Metro Calgary for trying something new and different. Hopefully this experiment works and is interesting. Either way, credit is due for MSM trying to integrate a new kind of journalism. I’m looking forward to it!
To define “what is a ‘progressive’” I would recomend we start with defining ‘progressive’. But where do you start when trying to define ‘progressive’? To get the ball rolling, we might as well start with the basics: the dictionary definition of the word ‘progressive’ courtesy Dictionary.com.
1. favouring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters: a progressive mayor.
2. making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.
3. characterized by such progress, or by continuous improvement.
4. (initial capital letter) of or pertaining to any of the Progressive parties in politics.
5. going forward or onward; passing successively from one member of a series to the next; proceeding step by step.
6. noting or pertaining to a form of taxation in which the rate increases with certain increases in taxable income.
7. of or pertaining to progressive education: progressive schools.
8. Grammar. noting a verb aspect or other verb category that indicates action or state going on at a temporal point of reference.
9. Medicine/Medical. continuously increasing in extent or severity, as a disease.
10. a person who is progressive or who favours progress or reform, esp. in political matters.
11. (initial capital letter) a member of a Progressive party.
a. the progressive aspect.
b. a verb form or construction in the progressive, as are thinking in They are thinking about it.
Of course if we are going to examine what ‘progressive’ means I suggest we also must examine its root word: ‘progress’.
prog·ress [n. prog-res, -ruhs or, especially Brit., proh-gres; v. pruh-gres]
1. a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage: the progress of a student toward a degree.
2. developmental activity in science, technology, etc., esp. with reference to the commercial opportunities created thereby or to the promotion of the material well-being of the public through the goods, techniques, or facilities created.
3. advancement in general.
4. growth or development; continuous improvement: He shows progress in his muscular coordination.
5. the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level.
6. Biology. increasing differentiation and perfection in the course of ontogeny or phylogeny.
7. forward or onward movement: the progress of the planets.
8. the forward course of action, events, time, etc.
9. an official journey or tour, as by a sovereign or dignitary.
–verb (used without object) pro·gress
10. to go forward or onward in space or time: The wagon train progressed through the valley. As the play progressed, the leading man grew more inaudible.
11. to grow or develop, as in complexity, scope, or severity; advance: Are you progressing in your piano studies? The disease progressed slowly.
12. in progress, going on; under way; being done; happening: The meeting was already in progress.
Perhaps just as importantly we should take a peek at the etomology of the word ‘progress’. It comes to us through the combination of two latin words: from progressus, pp. of progredi “go forward,” from pro-“forward” + gradi “to step, walk,” from gradus “step”.
What can we take from these dictionary definitions and the etymology? Well, setting aside the political definitions, it appears almost all the definitions revolve around “moving forward” or “improvement” or “advancement”. But is this all there really is to being a ‘progressive’? So long as you keep moving forward or improving things you are a progressive? If so, then almost everyone in politics can be defined as ‘progressive’ because they all are trying to improve their constituency.
On the flip side of things these definitions might prove to be very helpful in getting at what a progressive is, but they are not very helpful when trying to define what is progressive. Surely not all progress is good progress.
Take a look at the history of warfare as an example. We went from fighting with our hands, to sticks, to knives, to guns, to bombs, to the atomic bomb. Fighting with your hands, knives or even guns is one thing, they are all targeted at one individual or a small group, but once you get to the atomic bomb, we are talking about having the ability to destroy the entire planet in a matter of minutes. Is this progress? According to the preceding definitions of ‘progress’ and ‘progressive’, yes, having the ability to destroy the world is progressive.
The same can be said for technology. During the college bowl games, I remember seeing the “e-coin toss” and thinking, did we really need to make a coin flip electronic? Really? What’s wrong with a coin? It’s simple and effective; with little room for improvement. What a waste of time and resources. I’m sure you too can think of a half dozen examples in your own life where ‘progress’ was made seemingly only for progress’ sake.
Clearly there has to be more to being a ‘progressive’ than just progressing.
And clearly this is where we depart from the traditional political definition of ‘progressive’ as well.
I think this is where the three pillars of being a ‘progressive’ – interconnectedness, understanding and adaptability – my group at the first Reboot Alberta came up with, may come into play. Through using these these tools I believe we can find a better definition for ‘progressive thinking’, which, in my mind, will allow us to make decisions that are more wise than the traditional definition of ‘progressive’ allows for.
Tomorrow I will continue in this vein by beginning the exploration of the interconnectedness ‘pillar’.
As I’ve written about before, coming out of the first Reboot Alberta event, many individuals (including bloggers) were invited to write on what “being a progressive” means to them.
While there have been a great many posts and white papers written on the subject as a result – I invite you to visit RebootAlberta.org to read as many of them as possible – I wanted to take advantage of the week leading up to Reboot Alberta 2, which begins this Friday in Kananaskis, by offering my own take.
The first Reboot Alberta event was billed as a meeting of progressives before the event. I considered myself to be ‘progressive’ in my thinking (or at the very least not ‘regressive’), so off I went to Red Deer. But it didn’t take long before I, and others, started asking “what does it mean to be ‘progressive’ anyway?”. It’s amazing how sometimes we simply label ourselves as something and do not bother to delve into it to find out what it really means. We’re far too often to simply sit back and be comfortable with a superficial label.
So for me it seemed only natural that the first group discussion of the day I would attend would be “What is a Progressive?”. I’m glad I did, as that very first conversation helped frame the rest of my Reboot experience and the outcomes of it came up several times throughout the weekend.
In that group we came up with the following traits that we believe ‘progressive’ is about:
It was shortly after the first Reboot Alberta conference that I came across this post by Tyler Shandro, who, while it is true did not attend the event, still hit the nail on the head. “Progressive” isn’t a left or right thing and it should not be the domain of any single political faction. The definition of progressive my group came up with can easily be applied to ANY political party. (And, in my opinion, should be applied by all parties and by all individuals in their personal lives to.)
I, unlike several of the individuals who have written on the topic over the past couple months, do not see progressive as the opposite of anything or any other political ideology. Instead I see progressivism as a principle – a tool to help create wise decisions built on the best knowledge available. With this in mind, progressive policies – policies that are built on interconnectedness, understanding and adaptability – could just as easily be created by self-styled conservatives or liberals. Hence progressivism should not be the domain of one party to the exclusion of another.
There are many ways to for Albertans to be progressive within their community. I think this is why all four “ways forward” discussion groups at the first Reboot Alberta were so heavily populated. No one group dominated. Some thought “progress” can happen via the current parties we have, others wanted a new party option. Some thought “progressive” ideals could be best pursued by them on their own, others thought it best to happen as part of a non-political movement.
I felt – and still feel – it was a shame the “news” being heard by those not at the initial Reboot Alberta was so focused on the new party option, because focusing on that alone is to ignore 3/4 of the discussion.
But, I digress.
I think it is healthy that Tyler and others question what “progressive” means. I know I did, and still do. Every person who subscribes to an ideology, principle or policy, should always dig deeper into what it means, what its causal architecture is, why it is the way it is, and what cognitive dissonance might be at play in both the presenter and ourselves. It is through our recognition of how these various facets are interconnected that we may gain better understanding and we can become adaptable and change our ways and minds based on the evidence we may find. This is something I think – and hope – every individual and political party would want to do. (And you’ll just happen to note, those are all three of the ‘pillars’ of our group’s definition of ‘progressive’.)
So, during this upcoming week, I plan on writing a series of posts exploring what it means to be ‘progressive’ and what ‘progress’ actually means. I plan on doing this by going dedicating some time to each of the three ‘pillars’ as well as one extra post on what I believe to be a key feedback tool to ensure the pillars are possible: openness and transparency.
Tomorrow I will begin with a little more on ‘progress’ and what the term itself means and where it comes from. I hope you’ll take the time to follow along as I explore this rabbit hole in anticipation of Reboot Alberta 2.
It seems strange to me to congratulate someone who is effectively spewing venom. But I feel proud of Rob Anderson for switching allegiance from the Alberta PCs to the Wildrose Alliance. No sooner had he made the announcement and he began immediately exposing the dark corners of the Government he had supported and loved so dearly not so long ago.
To do this takes gumption and honesty. It could not have been an easy decision, but assuming he is telling the truth, it is clearly one based on morality and I applaud him for this. We need more politicians who are willing to be open and honest with the public and who are willing to stake their career on correcting their mistakes.
Yet, that is where my applause for his and Heather Forsyth’s defection ends.
If you don’t read many Alberta political blogs then you probably haven’t seen an interesting phenomenon happening coming out of the Reboot Alberta conference. Average citizens who attended – and many who didn’t – have been taking the time to put into writing what they believe the definition of “progressive” is. “Progressive” being what Rebooters have branded themselves as. (My own thoughts on the subject will come in the near future in the form of a series of posts.)
In my mind, I find myself amazed at the number of Albertan’s taking the time, through this difficult exercise, to try and spell out what they want their province to look like – and how Alberta might get from where it is now, to that point.
I’m not seeing this kind of open idealogical and policy development happening with the Wildrose Alliance and that concerns me. Hardly anyone is talking about what it means to be a Wildrose supporter. Especially before choosing to become one.
Up until this point the majority of what the general public has seen is a party which is defining itself via negative statements: i.e. “We are not the Tories.” This was perhaps most clearly stated during the Calgary-Glenmore by-election when the slogan the Wildrose Alliance staked their claim with was “Send Ed a Message”. There was nothing in there about how their position would be any different, but that’s okay because it tapped into a societal urge to do just that: send Ed a message. (Remember the Liberals did come in second in the race, also beating out the PC candidate. Meaning many voters chose to send a message too, just via a different channel.)
The problem with defining yourself in such a way is you’ve left the power to define you in the hands of your opposition. It would be very easy for Ed Stelmach to simply illustrate ‘the message was received’ and suddenly you’re brand has dried up. To be truly effective, the Wildrose Alliance are going to have to illustrate what they are and just what they are not.
So who is the Wildrose Alliance? What do they stand for?
From the policy documents on their website and what their leader Danielle Smith has said in the media, I think they can be summed up as offering ‘change’ or ‘something different’. While this doesn’t help solve my previous point it’s not a bad horse to hitch your wagon to. After all, it worked for Barack Obama.
But the point with Obama was, he really did represent a different way of doing things. (Arguments can be made that his results so far have been the same, but his methods have been near polar opposites of his predecessor.) I’m not convinced yet that the Wildrose Alliance really does offer a different way of doing things.
Case in point the addition of Anderson and Forsyth. If you’ve staked your entire brand on the fact you are different than the PC Party, how can you accept two of their MLAs as your own? This appears to be a quick – albeit short-term helpful – abandonment of the central pillar of the brand.
Yet, I think it goes deeper than just this. From what I’ve been told, the Wildrose Alliance party was founded by former PC supporters who feel the party has lost its way over the past however many years. Anderson and Forsyth and the framing of the by-election victory illustrate this disillusion as well.
Here’s my point: if voters are looking for something new – how does the Wildrose Alliance represent anything other than simply the PC Party of the past? That’s not new, that’s simply slapping a new coat of paint on the same thing we’ve already had before. Change for the sake of change, if you will.
I’m not deluded however. This alone may be enough to hand them a majority in the next election. The Liberals – despite David Swann’s best efforts – are looking to do nothing more than change their logo, while the Alberta NDP plod along contemplating no change of any kind. When these are the options you are up against, the Wildrose’s fresh face with the same tired out plan might be more than enough.
I may be wrong, but it strikes me the public don’t just want new people doing the same thing we’ve done before. If given the option, they want Alberta politics to be done in completely different – and better – way.
So far as I can see right now, those bloggers typing out their thoughts on what the province could be are the only ones offering anything “new”. And that’s too bad they’re the only ones.