web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

just a voice

Written By: - Date published: 4:01 pm, February 7th, 2014 - 6 comments
Categories: activism, community democracy, democratic participation - Tags: , ,

What follows is just my take on recent public meetings held in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. To be clear, I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone else, though I’m aware there has been broad agreement on some of what follows.

Firstly then, last Saturday, there was general agreement by those gathered to adopt the name ‘Many Voices’. I guess at this nascent point in our development that name could be superceded. Regardless, some of the reasoning behind choosing a name that’s not overtly political is down to a somewhat shared concern that, organisationally doors should be open and no hurdles should be presented to people thinking of involving themselves. As throw-away examples, surveillance issues concern people of both a traditional left and right persuasion. Similarly, many people don’t feel comfortable  identifying with either the political left or the right, but have genuine social concerns and worries.

We realise we have the potential and limitations that we explore or impose. There is no compelling reason why, in time, we can’t have discussion groups, organise and execute actions, run workshops, build community and much, much more depending on skills, resources and enthusiasm. Obviously, there is no reason why everyone would need to be involved in all aspects of ‘Many Voices’. We’ll find our own space and comfortable level of engagement. Since we want expressions (verbal or physical) to be free from the stultifying effect of elevating one viewpoint over others simply due to the availability of resources, money or gifted orators, we will not be forging any party line on any political or social issue.

In line with the above and to protect the democratic integrity of what we’re about, we won’t be affording the opportunity for any political party or organisation to sell themselves or amplify their particular message through us. We are concerned with developing the voices, thoughts and opinions of ordinary people and exploring the potential that can flow from that.

It might sound like an aside, but because we want to develop spaces that will encourage mutual engagement and learning, rather than spaces where people are merely spoken at or preached to, there will be no megaphones or loudhailers at any of our events or actions.

One of our next steps is to produce a comprehensive but tight summation of what we are about and lock in any necessary protections for the democratic foundations or initial conditions that will inform our future activities. I could guess that will be the only piece of ‘official’ ‘Many Voices’ literature that will be produced. Other literature, insofar as it can only reasonably be said to reflect the views of those who write, produce or source them, won’t claim to be representative of Many Voices as a whole.

Finally then, ‘Many Voices’ isn’t some exclusive clique of ‘standardistas’ or any such like. It’s already a fairly broad mix of people whose politics/sense of community embrace a variety of perspectives and levels of commitment. There’s no pressure put on anyone to commit to any specific programme or plan of action. Perhaps just the initial prospect of engaging with people who are broadly in concert with you would be a good enough reason for you, and/or people you know, to pop along to the Bandstand at Dunedin Botanic Gardens around 1 O’Clock this Saturday afternoon.

6 comments on “just a voice”

  1. weka 1

    Nice write up, and great project. I especially like this

    “In line with the above and to protect the democratic integrity of what we’re about, we won’t be affording the opportunity for any political party or organisation to sell themselves or amplify their particular message through us. We are concerned with developing the voices, thoughts and opinions of ordinary people and exploring the potential that can flow from that.”

  2. In 1990 I spent about a fortnight in a small town in western Greece called Konitsa. it was halfway up a mountainside. Down below was a beautiful river and gorge (the Aoos River – spelling might be wrong).

    Anyway, in the town on the hillside there was only really one piece of public flat land and it was laid out a bit like a chess board in black and white squares. It happened to be just beneath the second floor balcony of the hotel we were staying at. After tea we sat drinking some retsina on the balcony.

    As we sat there I remember first seeing the local Orthodox priest start walking up and down this square (about 20m x 20m at most, probably less) next to a middle aged man. I thought they were just using it as a convenient place to continue a conversation they’d started elsewhere.

    But then, more and more people started to do the same, walking up and down, backwards and forwards talking to each other. As we watched we noticed that people would leave one conversation and then go over to another and walk alongside, joining in. We also noticed that groups of young people – dressed up – also joined the group, chatting excitedly, laughing and passing comments with the other townspeople.

    Within half an hour of first seeing the priest and man walking together, the square was completely jammed with people, still all walking back and forth with quite a few ‘onlookers’ talking to each other and passing comments to those walking.

    I used to think that it was simply their ‘entertainment’ on a ‘saturday night’ (or whichever night it was). But now I realise it was probably much more than that. They weren’t just having fun – though they definitely were and the atmosphere was really friendly – they would also have been sorting out issues, some interpersonal, some to do with the town. And, of course, they were passing the time with each other in a way that made that perch on a rocky mountainside their home, together.

    All the best bill, and the other voices.

  3. geoff 3

    good stuff

  4. greywarbler 4

    A great idea Bill. And Puddleglum that Greek gathering sounds novel and a winner for getting people intrigued, then involved.

  5. Philj 5

    Xox
    Nice idea. Other locations throughout Aotearoa?

  6. T6C 6

    Will be there at the Botanicals.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • English breaks his $6000 wages promise
    Just one month into the new year Bill English has already rowed back on his election promise of real wage rises for New Zealanders, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “During the election campaign National promised Kiwis that the average… ...
    5 days ago
  • National fails to produce evidence justifying attack on RMA
    The National Government is misusing evidence provided in the Motu report on planning rules to justify gutting the environmental protections secured by the Resource Management Act (RMA), says the Green Party today. The Motu group's research into the impacts of… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    5 days ago
  • National fails to produce evidence justifying attack on RMA
    The National Government is misusing evidence provided in the Motu report on planning rules to justify gutting the environmental protections secured by the Resource Management Act (RMA), says the Green Party today. The Motu group's research into the impacts of… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    5 days ago
  • RMA changes won’t knock a dollar off the cost of a new home
    The Government’s proposed changes to the RMA won’t increase the number of affordable homes or knock a dollar off the cost of building a new house, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “Tinkering with the RMA will not solve National’s housing… ...
    6 days ago
  • What is the real ‘price of the club’?
    What price is too high to join a club?  According to the current the New Zealand Prime Minister, the lives of young Kiwi men and women are a part of the package. In his latest BBC interview, John Key fails… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    6 days ago
  • Palestine – NZ talks loudly in New York, does little at home
    Even though New Zealand has been gently slumbering over the last few weeks, world affairs have been progressing at its usual break-neck speed. There have been a number of significant steps since we all disbanded from the last parliamentary year.… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    7 days ago
  • DOC debacle means hundreds may have missed out on fishing licences
    Hundreds of families and recreational fishers may have had their holidays spoiled by missing out on their fishing licences, with Conservation Minister Maggie Barry preferring instead to focus on more high profile portfolio priorities over the summer break, Labour’s Conservation… ...
    7 days ago
  • Effective action needed against pirate fishing boats
    New Zealand’s failure to detain pirate shipping vessels poaching endangered species in our region is simply not good enough, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “We send New Zealand naval vessels to the Arabian Gulf to board pirate ships there… ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing affordability crisis gets worse under National
    News that Auckland’s housing is now among the 10 most unaffordable in the world confirms the Government’s housing policy has failed, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After six years in power, National’s housing policies have not fixed the housing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Rheumatic fever rates continue to soar despite millions spent on prevention...
    The Government’s $65 million spend on rheumatic fever prevention has made little impact on the alarmingly high rate of the disease among young New Zealanders, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Latest figures from ESR show there were 235 notified… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government wipes off $5 billion in tax debt
    Since coming to office, the National Government has written off $5 billion* in tax debt owed by more than a million, Labour MP Stuart Nash says. "There are two sides to the New Zealand economy under the National government: the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour adds its condemnation of Paris attack
    The Labour Party adds its voice to the international condemnation of today’s shocking attack on freedom of speech in Paris, Leader Andrew Little says. “The attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper is an assault on democracy and freedom of expression.… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Petrol retailers and importers must pass on savings
    New Zealand’s petrol retailers and importers must start passing on savings to Kiwis motorists following the dramatic drop in the price of crude oil, Labour’s Energy Spokesman Stuart Nash says. “It is great news for Kiwi drivers that the price… ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Foreign investors must uphold their promises
    The Government must ensure foreign investors uphold their commitment to add value to sensitive New Zealand assets* they purchase, after new figures show National has declined just 1.5 per cent of all applications, Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Stuart Nash says. … ...
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere