Show up and make it happen
by Chris Harper
You could probably call me an addict. When it comes to my addiction, I can’t say no. I just have to do it. Maybe I need help, but it feels so good!
When it comes to getting things done to make a better Calgary, why bother trying to say no? Does it really make sense to say, “I’m too busy to defend my community and stand up for what I think is right?” Of course not.
Often times it’s the politicians and “experts” who get the write-ups in the papers when it comes to issues impacting Calgary, but behind the scenes there are some wicked and highly motivated groups who are working hard to make sure residents of Calgary have a say on the issues that impact them.
Like the idea of being able to see in real time where your bus is on a day with a high of -20 C. There’s a group pushing really hard to make sure that information is made public so software developers can make an app for our smart phones. Think transit fees are high enough and shouldn’t be increased? There’s a team working on that one too!
Or how about secondary suites (commonly known as basement suites)? Maybe you’re living in an illegal one right now and don’t even know it. Perhaps, your safety is at risk and you’re not even aware. There are several groups trying to have them legalized to protect your safety, but there are also groups trying to fight against that legalization. Do parking concerns really trump the safety of you, your friends, and family when it comes to secondary suites? Hell no!
So here’s the catch: decisions are made by those who show up. MRU has over 14,000 students. Yet, aldermen may decide parking availability is more important than your safety by not supporting secondary suite reform in our city simply because they received 300 phone calls opposing secondary suites and opposing your right to a safe place to live.
Imagine if a thousand MRU students picked up the phone and called their alderman on the issue of secondary suites? Combine this with the efforts of the other educational institutions and you’d have a pretty sweet thing going. Those 300 people who are opposed would quickly be the minority.
My point is you have to do something. You can’t assume that others are going to do it for you because that won’t always happen. Below are a few organizations I recommend getting involved in. They’re proven, and they’re heard. They’re the people that “show up” and make it happen.
CivicCamp (www.civiccamp.org) is a democratic, non-partisan, public advocacy group, enabling people to engage in the evolution of a richer social fabric and environmentally, socially and fiscally sustainable community. The underlying principle is that democracy is not something we have; it’s something we make.
Better Calgary Campaign (www.bettercalgary.ca) is a non-partisan, non-profit, completely volunteer-run group of citizens dedicated to better municipal government in Calgary.
Chris Harper ran in the 2010 municipal election and is an active community volunteer who pays the bills through his consulting work.