the democratic imagination
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the democratic imagination
envisioning and re-envisioning participation in - and the remaking of - all kinds of democratic practices and political institutions
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Special Issue, Community Dev. J.: Community Development and the Arts: Reviving the Democratic Imagination

An interesting special issue of the Community Development Journal from 2007, featuring papers by Adrienne Rich, François Matarasso, Stephen Duncombe, Darlene Clover, among others. It's Oxford UP, so not cheap; but hopefully you can beg or borrow from someone with institutional access.

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Scout - Daily Updates, State and Federal Laws and Regulations

Scout - Daily Updates, State and Federal Laws and Regulations | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

A great free service to keep abreast of speeches and bills in the US Congress, as well as bills in all 50 states. Would be grand to see something similar here in Canada.

 

"A search and notification engine for government action in Washington DC and all 50 states, by the Sunlight Foundation."

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Out of the mouths of "casseroles" - wi: mobilities special issue

special issue of the wi: mobilities journal about the on-going Québec student protests, in the form of reflections, reports, and images.

 

from the Introduction:

"Inspired by the ongoing student movement, we have assembled this special issue of wi to provide a common space for short reflections on the on-going student demonstrations against the latest provincial budget in Quebec, as well as the imposition of “Bill 78”, the so-called “special law” passed on May 18th 2012 that extended the powers of the police in the province in contravention of the Quebec and Canadian Charters of Rights and Freedoms. The majority of submissions are from professors and students living and working in Quebec who offer their first-hand accounts of the current situation."

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Off the Grid: photos by Eric Valli

Off the Grid: photos by Eric Valli | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

Valli's images are evocative, variously depicting reconceptions and refutations of community and society. I suppose the title declares the project's interest in those - principally from the global north - who have attempted to flee, despite being born into, industrial society. Nevertheless, the absence of depictions of the world's Aboriginal populations, alone or in relation to these people, is telling - though perhaps less of photographer's concerns than of his subjects.

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Juvenile In Justice

Juvenile In Justice | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

some pretty shocking images depicting how horribly we have let down certain of our world's youth

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Killing the Wheat Board, Kyoto and the Rule of Law - The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan

Killing the Wheat Board, Kyoto and the Rule of Law - The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it
The Coalition exists to oppose the nuclear industry in all its forms while promoting and encouraging the development and expansion of safe, clean and green energy solutions for Saskatchewan.

 

Coalitions, cooperatives, community arts practices and other socially-conscious forms of communities uniting are becoming important practical challenges to the atomizing effects of dominant capital and state-based institutions.


Via Jeff Hanks
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Social Economy Centre

Social Economy Centre | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"The Social Economy Centre (SEC) of the University of Toronto promotes and disseminates multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on issues affecting the social economy."

 

I agree in principle, but I'm highly skeptical of the results and side effects of establishing profit-generating practices to help finance non-profit endeavours – particularly art and cultural production efforts. The thumbnail above, presumably a stock photo, reinforces my skepticism in the way it implies SE is for and by middle-class white youth, and in how it seems to normalize volunteerism at the expense of job security, pay equity, social welfare, and so on.

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Community and mutual ownership: a historical review | Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Community and mutual ownership: a historical review | Joseph Rowntree Foundation | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"The history of 'community and mutual ownership' and the implications for policy and practice in this area."

 

Cited as an important document in the development of the "social enterprise" model of organizing and sustaining non-profit organizations (in North America, the term "social innovation" is more common).

 

Part of the model emphasizes democratic practices, but the reliance on business models - albeit adapted and modified - to propel non-profit organizations is a potential concern.

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Welcome to the Human Scale Education Movement

Welcome to the Human Scale Education Movement | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"Putting relationships at the heart of the organisation and design of our schools.

 

"Human Scale is an education reform movement committed to small scale learning communities based on the values of democracy, justice and respect. Human Scale Education works directly with schools and parents to promote human scale learning environments where children and young people are known and valued as individuals."

 

 

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Restorative Justice Council

Restorative Justice Council | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"Restorative processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward."

 

Interesting to think whether and how such processes are more democratic engagements with deviant and criminal behaviour than are current punitive or retributive ones.

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Jennifer McKendrick, Pennsylvania Photographer, Refuses To Photograph Teen Bullies

Jennifer McKendrick, Pennsylvania Photographer, Refuses To Photograph Teen Bullies | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"A Pennsylvania photographer has chosen not to photograph a group of high school girls for their senior portraits after she found evidence of the teens bullying other students on Facebook."

 

How does this square with our notions of photography (e.g., as a medium representing truth, as a passive, objective medium simply recording what the camera (not what the photographer chooses to) see, etc.)? 

 

What might arguments might be made about the camera's role in democratic thought and action, particularly if such agency is the exception not the rule (and, presumably, the passive, albeit objective lens is what passes for normal)?

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rabble.ca series - Reinventing democracy. Reclaiming the commons. | rabble.ca

rabble.ca series - Reinventing democracy. Reclaiming the commons. | rabble.ca | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it
"This is an extended series on the Canadian left -- Reinventing democracy, reclaiming the commons: A progressive dialogue on the future of Canada -- a look at where it stands after the recent federal election, and what the future can hold. The series will run in this, rabble.ca's 10th year, and is curated by journalist Murray Dobbin."

Looking forward to this set of readings.
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Dig the Earth Documentary Shown Across North America

I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Andrew Smith, the film's DOP and Director, at the IVSA 2011 conference in Vancouver. Not only is the film about understanding and reclaiming local food systems, but about democratically transforming education at its highest levels. Participants in the "Corn on the Quad" project gained rich experiential knowledge - from students incoming through to about to graduate, and profs and staff as well.
Well worth a watch, and I'm sure Dr. Smith would be happy to be contacted about where and how to see the doc (he generously gave me a copy on DVD, so if anyone in the Toronto area is interested in a screening please let me know).
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The Occupation Cookbook, or the Model of the Occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences ...

This page documents the activities of an independent student initiative that was formed in spring 2009 in Zagreb, Croatia, the occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the students' struggle to achieve free education for...
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Angela McRobbie keynote - Be Creative: Making a Living in the Urban Culture Industries

McRobbie critiques Florida and describes her own research of cultural industries in Berlin

 

"Guest lecturer Angela McRobbie, Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London presents 'Be Creative: Making a Living in the Urban Culture Industries'. Date: February 8, 2012"

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DDTv (Herb Schiller Reads The New York Times)

Vitriolic, but nevertheless a pleasure to watch, whether as an introduction to The New York Times, the invaluable online archive of DDTv, Paper Tiger Television or the phenomenon of community media in general, a material aspect of Herbert Schiller's critical thinking (i.e., his voice), or DeeDee Halleck (her book, "Hand-Held Visions, refers to this production; p. 111). Take your pick!

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Welcome | Teaching Copyright

I haven't reviewed this, but it sounds promising - beginning dialogue about "fair use" and free speech is uncommon, even if necessary. I only hope, and this is a concern I have about all curriculum, that it doesn't get oversimplified in implementation.

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Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive

Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

An important resource for understanding how the events of September 11, 2001 were addressed by TV news.

 

I'm not sure the extent to which this project addresses the fallout of 9/11 - particularly in terms of attacks on civil liberties and other aspects of liberal democracy in reaction to these acts of terror - but certainly a rich resource nonetheless.

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The Grove Community School | A public alternative school focusing on Social Justice, the Environment & Community Activism

"The Grove Community School is a public alternative school within the Toronto District School Board offering arts-infused, holistic learning, built on the core values of social justice, environmentalism, and community activism.

"The school originated in conversations at Dufferin Grove Park, and several parents and community worked tirelessly to bring it into being."

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An Impossible Vision | The Academy of the Impossible

"We teach each other that our dreams can come true, and how to achieve them, through innovative artistic, technological, social and literacy programs.

"AOTI is an open source social enterprise with a commitment to transparency. Our operating base will open for the public in early 2012 at 231 Wallace Avenue in Toronto."

 

I'm not sure that I know what any of this means, but I'm certainly hoping to find out. Their first event in 2012 (possibly ever?) is a conversation with Rick Salutin (Th. Jan. 5)

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The Likeable Constitution

The Likeable Constitution | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"Spreading, and ranking, what makes America the greatest country on the web – one wall post at a time."

 

Arguably democratic. The kind of unary logic of this (that is, presented without debate or conversation, simply I like) is of concern, and makes understanding the decision-making impossible (which speaks to Facebook's strange success.)

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Without Insurance, 24-year-old Dies of Toothache - ABC News

Without Insurance, 24-year-old Dies of Toothache - ABC News | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn't afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and access to dental care."

 

 

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Amp Your Vote | Project Democracy / Projet Démocratie

Amp Your Vote | Project Democracy / Projet Démocratie | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

Although this site was aimed at increasing the franchise and challenging the conservative party's majority in Canada's 2011 federal election, it's still moderately active, particularly through it's facebook group.

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8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it

"The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance."

 

I'm guessing roughly the same might be said of young Canadians. However, the idea of a "ruling elite" smacks of a conspiracy theory that doesn't really hold water. While there is a concentration of power - in the US as in Canada and many other nations around the world - the exercising of that power is a far more complex matter than Levine is willing to assert. 

 

Still, an insightful and precise account of the major factors disenfranchising and acquiescing youth in modern nations.

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Taisia Sidorova, 21, loses half her brain; gains new artistic ability

Taisia Sidorova, 21, loses half her brain; gains new artistic ability | the democratic imagination | Scoop.it
"Taisia Sidorova, 21, from St Petersburg, lost the left side of her brain, which is responsible for logic and analysis. As she recovered she realised she could now paint and draw."

I think the science about left vs. right brain processes has been largely debunked - at least in terms of higher-level symbolic processes; however, the possibilities of recuperation here are interesting. Does Ms. Sidorova owe her ability (ironically, tragically) to the accident, or to the nature of her recovery? Was inhibition, self-doubt, or anxiety removed along with damaged brain matter, or did her physical removal from habitual (i.e., modern) patterns of living enable an already latent skill to flourish?

I don't want to pretend that the surgery meant nothing to Ms. Sidorova's development, but neither do I want to dismiss the possibility that modern practices habitually deter us from more creative endeavours. The process of "recovery" is worth thinking about as a rich sensory and pedagogical set of experiences; underlying reasons for its seeming logic in healthcare and not in public educational settings are worth considering.
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