Workshop idea by Rashid Mhar
All of the workshops at Local Democracy for Everyone have been created by our participants. We’re sharing a summary of each workshop idea to help you decide what you’d most like to participate in – and so that everyone can start to share their comments about each idea.
Ballot for Bondi Beach
Using only the resources that you can find amongst your neighbours, your own initiative and the co-operation of some trusted neighbours… What strategy could you find to return a council to local democracy, with no help from the authorities?
The case study used for this exercise will be based on the untold real life story of the citizen led transformation of Waverley Council in Sydney, home to the world famous Bondi Beach.
In the 1980s, a group of locals decided to challenge the group in control of the council. They formed a Community Action Group where none existed, started getting things fixed that were ignored. They used their local knowledge to get to grips with the issues the locals faced, changed canvassing to conversation that was about getting to know people and what they wanted done.
From a standing start they were driven by curiosity. Democracy, they decided, wasn’t just about voting, it was about knowing what needs to be done, how to get it done, how listening formed the start point of getting heard, how doing was better than talking and how in they end they didn’t hope for votes, they knew on election day the big parties were in for a surprise.
We will be offering a workshop where you will take the role of the locals of Waverley. You’ll get your context information from Joe Taylor, who was an active part of the events, and you will develop ideas that could form the basis of plans that the locals used to transform the relationship between the people and local government. At the end of the workshop we’ll evaluate those ideas using knowledge and experience of the actual events.
Local activist and democratic campaigner
Rashid Mhar is a local organiser for 38 Degrees Manchester, Planner and Facilitator for Manchester Assembly for Democracy, NatCAN Administrator and local activist and democratic campaigner. Follows a strict principle of independent political thinking and radical challenge to systems that exhibit a tendency to stay the same. From a perspective informed by environmental consciousness and humanism he advocates for the restoration of evolution to the heart of the democratic process. In a line; the people should raise the issues, participate in proposing the answers, decide which to try and see and take responsibility for the results and when fitting change their minds and try again.
In the past he worked in programmes for the long term unemployed, development of vocational training and qualifications, key skills and basic skills support for Manchester College of Arts and Technology. Also was involved in early days of Internet evangelism and Redbricks wired network for Hulme Estate.
He would rather spend his time learning and walking the great history and heritage of the North West, study science and nature and sit quietly in Whitworth Art Gallery but accepts that democracy should not be an opt in or opt out affair but a state of conciousness that you express by doing rather than believing in.
Community developer and organiser
Joe Taylor is a community developer and organiser. He spent many years of his life on itinerant travels working his way across the world which led him to spend the Thatcher years in New South Wales. Upon his return to Wigan he was shocked by how much he had missed and the changes wrought during that period. Moved by the effects on the people of those changes he committed his efforts to doing work to support the community. He divides his time and determined effort between NatCAN, Greenslate Community Farm, 38 Degrees Manchester, Positive Money, Assemblies for Democracy and Manchester Assembly for Democracy amongst many others.
Starting his ‘second youth’, Joe likes to offer to his help and vast experience to anyone trying to do something. With blunt manner and dry humour of a son Wigan that hides the experience of years of journeys across the world, people who get to know him inevitably realise he is a surprise package.