There’s no denying London’s political landscape is witnessing a truly special movement.
More than any other time in recent memory, residents are rallying to share ideas on how to improve the city.
The creation of several citizen-led civic-engagement groups over the past three years — namely Citizens Corps, Open Data London, ChangeCamp, and Better London — has led to more Londoners getting involved. These groups have joined the likes of the Urban League of London (founded in 1969), Emerging Leaders (2006), and others as groups with something to say.
Case in point, recent hot topics within the Citizens Corps include the retention of London’s youth and the implications of the zero per cent tax increase proposed for the 2013 municipal budget.
The creator of Citizens Corps, Open Data London, and ChangeCamp, Shawn Adamsson, is one of the more involved citizens in the city. As recently as five years ago, though, the 43-year-old wasn’t concerned with local issues.
“I’m involved because I hate losing our youth from the city,” Adamsson said. “Getting people informed and interested at the grassroots level seems, to me, as the best way to help nudge us forward.”
One longtime London resident with a history of community involvement says it’s hard to ignore the strong presence of these groups in the Forest City.
“What makes London unique right now is that all of these small groups formed at once,” said Glen Pearson, a former MP (London North Centre), current director of the London Food Bank, and resident of London for the past 40 years.
With local voter turnout down in the most recent provincial, federal, and municipal elections, the need to spread the word has been amplified, Pearson adds.
“I think it’s a sign of how difficult things are,” Pearson said. “These groups are springing up because things are wrong.”
Some London-based civic groups founded since 2010:
Groups concerned with municipal affairs
• Citizen Corps (founded in 2012)
• *ReThink London (2012)
• *Citizens Panel (2011)
• *City Symposium (2011)
• Better London (2011)
• Open Data London (2010)
• ChangeCamp London (2010)
* associated with City of London/London Public Library
Groups concerned with large-scale affairs
• Occupy London (2011)
• Hack the Vote (2010)
Tune into AM980 on Monday from noon to 1 p.m. for a panel discussion on citizen engagement in the Forest City