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General News · 19th February 2020
Kristen Scholfield-Sweet
A NEW WAY OF GOVERNING OURSELVES
February 19, 2020

In response to a community-wide invitation, approximately 40 people gathered in Manson’s Hall on Saturday, February 15, to discuss the possibilities of finding new ways of governing ourselves here on Cortes Island. I facilitated the meeting, and am sharing my notes in this post with community members and others who were unable to attend.

The invitation was to “organize locally to build Community Council, to create a space to talk about what most matters in these rapidly changing times; a place to listen together… What is being called for is a different way or organizing ourselves; a way that is not about any one elected representative, person, party, or way of thinking.” The group assembled was asked, “What would Council do? Who would it be? How would it be formed? What old wisdom could inform this new version?”

A lively discussion filled our time together. Cortes Currents was there to cover the meeting and published an article the next day. It can be found here. https://cortescurrents.ca/local-governance-alternatives-discussed/ A group of people in attendance volunteered to form a research group focusing on the questions and comments below, with the intention of bringing some ideas forward for another community discussion this spring.

Kristen Scholfield-Sweet


Session notes for
A NEW WAY OF GOVERNING OURSELVES
Manson’s Hall Pioneer Room

1. WHO OF US WOULD BE DOING THIS?

Property owners, residents regardless of citizenship, anyone who identifies as an adult

Allow every voice: First Nations, Settler, Other-than-human

Identify training necessary for inclusion, harmony, effective leadership

2. WHAT WOULD WE DO?

SHOW UP!
listen to each other

Pre-process issues on Cortes, communicate our community life choices to the SRD

Re-educate levels of government regarding our community life choices

Identify areas of community function best managed on island by islanders

3. HOW WOULD WE FORM OURSELVES TO DO THIS?

Open election by Community; funded and conducted in such a way that all accept results

Avoid a “club” status; no top down structure

Create compromise between consensus and majority rules decision making

4. WHAT OLD WISDOM COULD INFORM THIS NEW VERSION?

Resident’s Council
Direct democracy
Rate payers’ associations
Town hall meetings
Town meetings

5. WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?

Consider the significance of naming this new governing form: Parliament, Circle, Council

Research models of alternative government

Consider who is the “we” and how to effectively include those not usually able to join in

Research what the SRD currently does not do well, or does not do at all, for our community

Create a meeting format that a larger community gathering can work with effectively