I had an opportunity to participate in the stop-the-cuts meeting at Duffering-Grove park this past Saturday.

In the sun-dappled shade of a September afternoon I sat in on the Environment and Cycling working group and found myself reminded of the messiness of the participatory democratic process. But I was also very much impressed by the way strangers were able to come together and share their thoughts on issues that mattered to them – and then construct policy statements. This is no small feat. One person took on the task of secretary, another, ran proposals back and forth, another offered helpful suggestions, while others chimed in either with professional knowledge or anecdotal evidence. What finally emerged was the sense that we have a community that is being under served by the current model of electoral politics. Council and the Mayor should be the start point not the end point of civic engagement and political processes.

Will we stop a mayor hell-bent on making the city a little less habitable for humans and a lot more inviting to capital? Who knows? What I do know is that the more the public gets involved in the processes like the one this past weekend, the closer we come to seeing a democracy worthy of its name.