Participatory Democracy

Event 2

City Elections – Discovering What We Care about

Human Values in City Government – Expressing and Hearing the Voices of Ottawa

October 17, 2010


This event ran from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

– Welcome
– Introductions
– Market Place
– Discussion Rounds
– Gallery Walk
– Plenary Evaluation
– Closing

Quotes posted around the room

“There are no more prizes for predicting rain.  There are only prizes for building arks.”


“No is the beginning of commitment.”

Peter Block

“There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Margaret Wheatley

Opening Comments

The event was opened by Pamela Schreiner:  we are exploring participatory democracy in a municipal context.

This is an emergent process – we don’t know where this is going to lead. We don’t have a predetermined plan. We’re paying attention to what is being called for.

Our current view of participatory democracy in Ottawa is shown by the following diagram:

In the near future, as participatory democracy grows, city governance will be constantly interacting with the citizens. They will inform each other. To ensure that the value of this process continues to grow, attention will be paid to generative human values. What are the values that we care about? Then in the far future, the everyday issues that we deal with will become aligned with our human values. This alignment throughout the system gives it strength.

Open Space Methodology

Joanne Mantha facilitated the Open Space Technology (OST) process. Our focus was on the initial divergent part of the OST process. The convergent, action-oriented part of the process will be engaged in future sessions.

Discussion Sub-Group Results

The discussions were on the theme: Human Values in City Government – Expressing and Hearing the Voices of Ottawa.

Participants were asked to consider what ideas, questions and possibilities they want to explore with other voices of Ottawa? How can we participate in bringing our human values to city governance?

A1 – What is Value Based Governance? What are the dominant Values?

A government that respects values and social responsibility expectations –> is broader in governance and more inclusive of citizens.










Exercise social leadership

Socially responsible 

Inclusive of citizens at all levels of government

Respect system and rules

Connects  with stakeholders 

Balance interests fairly

Must consult  voters proactively

Social impact and values reviews of decisions and programs

People count!

Council decorum and respectful conduct


Is Lawful

Is Socially Responsible.

Has Relationships with government that are separate and at arm’s length

Avoids Conflict of interest


That government, voters and business be socially responsible:

– Environmentally Responsible +

– Integrity in government +

– Environmentally  responsibility +

– Benefit Society +

Voters politically engaged

C1 – Licensing Landlords for vulnerability – older or elderly persons

  1. After the fact
  2. Transportation
  3. ACORN org
  4. Protection of Tenant Rights
  5. Transparency between tenant + Landlord + City of Ottawa
  6. Qualification – Managerial degree, Landlord Tenant Act, human relationships
  7. Tenant’s vulnerability
  8. Exigent circumstances
  9. Retalitorical points
  10. Law inadequacies

A2 – Expectations – What we care about? How do we get there?

1.   Current Governance   (competing interests)    –>   Expanded Governance (to include values)

Economic/development predominance –> better balance with human values needs

Rebalance  the current higher consideration of economic factors and lesser considerations of  values   –> both economic issues and values need full consideration

2.  What is?          –>             What should be?

Less powerful                   –>        to values based as defined above

3.   Changes suggested.




Expand engagement 


Better Informed

Elect value-based candidates, who are willing to share power

Have more formal power  in decisions that affect them

Expand governance 

Structural  changes in rules and policy: i.e.

To expand decision making to specifically include Social Responsibility, be value based, address societal Impact, ethics reviews.

Change Relationship 

Structural changes to procurement and development rules

Social responsibility and values clause in bidding and contracting practices, in Life cycle management (LCM) practices and requirements

4.    Principle of overall expanded partnerships – being connected – fostering inter-connections

C2 – Retailers take back packaging material

– Cost back to who is responsible

– Corporate citizen

– Competition

– Less air pollution

– Where does my responsibility begin or end in terms of electronics and other items

– Less road damage, less noise

– Fewer pickup’s

– No added tax for door to door service


Participants were invited to evaluate this event by answering the following 5 questions.

What do I find most important and exciting about what I experienced today? What has it changed for me?

  • That Pamela has the calling and the guts to put together a team to provide a forum for collecting our thoughts and the willingness to put them forward.
  • To acknowledge that there is a problem in communicating. The limitation of importance of ideas to man. The change has acknowledged the fact that participatory democracy is an ongoing battle.
  • Vision of what could be from many different points of view converging into a central theme.
  • It confirmed my approach.
  • 1. A sense the people believe value-based governance is important. 2. Another sense of what values-based governance could be.
  • – Like-minded people. – the passion of the people. – the dedication, commitment of the people. – the vision and actions we developed. (What has it changes for me?) – I now see more potential for alliances, partnerships, friendships.

What are my impressions to the overall results of the discussions?

  • There are some very interesting minds in this small group. My impressions are positive, my energy is low.
  • There was a settling down of emotions and social control to have more ideas, awareness, and proactive government involvement in our society.  Commitment to our society.
  • Lots of different people with many different ways of thinking and expressing – from various walks of life – putting forth their ideas into a cohesive whole.
  • We came to the way governing should be.
  • I am hopeful!
  • In the segments I worked at – I saw the possibility of transforming municipal governance in my lifetime.

How do I see Human Values being guidance in governing the city?

  • The recognition of human values is essential to a change in the way the city is governed.
  • The guidance is to protect the person or people from victimization, physical harm, and have a brighter future.
  • Governing from a place of the people first could create a much richer, more cohesive, tolerant, inclusive and engaged society where everyone feels it is “by the people” and “for the people”.
  • The community should always come first with consideration of the Individual.
  • This is the future! This is about awakening to, and a better balance between people and development.
  • What else would be better? It truly has the potential to transform the world.

How do I see this process being useful in decision making process at the level of municipal governance?

  • It could be a very valuable process for getting people together to build engagement.
  • The law, at issue here, is to make decision making as a process to incorporate rules and regulations to be adapted into social culture of the society – openness of government. This would be applied to making landlord licensing to be more accountable, knowledgeable and informing the public. (transparency)
  • The very fact that we created this wonderfully productive space in such a short span of time provides evidence that citizens can be involved in decision-making in a bottom-up process.
  • Same process I have used for 40 years as a Trouble Shooter.
  • We have provided our voice and a brief road map of what we care about and in making structural changes in municipal governance. – To be part of a consultation framework.
  • It is a component – a tool/method but not the only tool/method.

What could be a next step?

  • Perhaps carrying the process beyond the election? Or offering the process to community associations post election? Thank you.
  • To incorporate social responsibility with all the top candidates in this election for honesty, integrity and openness.
  • Another group including mayoralty candidates – or after the election – a citizens meeting with the new council.
  • Creating a means to take it from what we want to what we need.
  • 1. Communicate to candidates! 2. Offer help to council in getting there. 3. Start small group community dialogue on values-based governance.
  • MORE!