This weekend, Brantford, Ontario hosted its second annual winter festival, known as “Frosty Fest”. The MC s of this event are two home grown super heroes known as “Captain Kindness and Kid Kindness”. They’re both affiliated with a local church and can be found at most events held in the downtown. While speaking to festival – goers this afternoon, he thanked all those for attending and explained how this festival brought people in the community “to celebrate winter, instead of hiding from it”. He then went on to express how important it was for the community to come together a “because as a city we’re stronger together than we are apart.” The Captain has really raised a valuable idea.
Communities, which could include anything from a classroom of students to the entire global population, are stronger when they work together or when citizens take an interest in their communities. This is why the Captain’s quote and the concept are of such interest to this blog. On issues of unemployment or poverty, the strength and cohesion of communities is a major factor on experiences of those facing poverty or unemployment. Many issues need to examined not just by politicians, but by community as well. An informed and connected community member is able to assert more influence or gain a greater stake in their community. Politicians don’t always know what issues in a community need addressing or the unique and complex challenges of addressing major problems.
Community members, on the ground, should be able to solve more issues in their own community; the first steps towards achieving this higher level of citizen input and involvement is through knowledge and bringing citizens together. These two things could happen in the same place. This blog is part of a larger citizen journalism project. It is also somewhat experimental as while this blog and all other EDG Media properties are guided by theories, scholarly literature, and journalistic practices, it also blends in many new, untried and unproven practices and ideas. Citizen journalism, along with many other sites of information exchange and community member interaction, are great ways to foster the needed citizen knowledge and togetherness. Citizen journalism could be an effective tool for gaining greater agency for community members when trying to attain this greater level of input and involvement in community matters.
If citizens are able to exert greater influence and involvement in community affairs, they could then possibly be in a better position to tackles issues such as poverty and unemployment. A top down heavy approach can be useful, but some matters are better left to those who have actual lived experiences within these matters.
Communities are just one type of social organization. They are also just one factor among many in the seemingly impossible task of solving poverty, unemployment and other social and economic issues.