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Citizen Capitalism 2013-07-31T01:12:41Z http://www.citizencapitalism.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Beth <![CDATA[Is Canada ready for online voting?]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1770 2013-07-31T01:03:13Z 2013-07-31T01:03:13Z August 1 is by-election day where we live. There’s a big hue-and-cry about the fact that the government called the election in the middle of summer, resulting in forecasted participation rates as low as 20% amid allegations of voter suppression.

Do the math and here’s what you get:  1 in 5 voting age citizens across 5 ridings could determine the outcomes, and that could end up changing the government of the entire province where 14 million people live. What’s wrong with this picture?

Here’s the thing about a democracy…we usually get the government we deserve. Voting (or not) is the way we ensure that. And fewer and fewer of us are choosing to vote — especially those under 30.

Much has been written about why. It really comes down to cynicism and detachment, with comments like,  “all politicians are the same”, and “my vote doesn’t make a difference”. There are reasons why people feel this way and we need to fix that. But in the meantime, we need to keep voting like our lives depend on it. Certainly our democracy does.

So what do we do?

Estonia and Australia offer two contrasting solutions.

In Estonia, they have taken voting online. Now 25% of the citizens choose that option. Big surprise. It’s called fishing where the fish are…reaching digital natives where they live. There are huge technological challenges to protecting the integrity of a digital election, but really, we can’t solve them? Estonia did.

In Australia, they made it illegal not to vote. You get fined.

So what’s the right solution? Carrot or stick? Or something else? Our democracy depends on finding answers to these questions.  So tell us, how you would resolve this.

Beth <![CDATA[Auto Draft]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1768 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z 0 Beth <![CDATA[Shop till you drop, do it locally]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1765 2013-07-15T00:42:32Z 2013-07-15T00:42:32Z Do you value the idea of shopping locally? Us too. That’s why were thrilled to share this cool new documentary project http://startlocalmovie.com/ in which CC is one of many voices.

The film will be ready by year’s end, so look for it at film festivals in 2014.

The project is the brainchild of two filmmakers from Midland, ON. It’s a pretty town on the shores of Georgian Bay, about 90 minutes north of Toronto. Like many towns of 15,000, it faces some significant challenges. It’s once-thriving downtown went through a difficult period where shoppers turned to shiny big stores on the outskirts, and to even bigger retail venues down the highway. It’s bouncing back now, thanks to new stores on the main street and the conscious effort of the local community to support them with their wallets.

Why does this matter? As anybody from Midland — or any small town  — will tell you, the downtown isn’t just a shopping area, it’s the heart of the community: a gathering place.

And it’s a perfect illustration of the point that when you buy something, you aren’t just buying a thing, you are voting for a system, for a way-of-life.

Think global, sure. But buy local, when you can. It makes a difference for everyone.

Beth <![CDATA[Where do you meet your “community”?]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1763 2013-03-26T19:02:45Z 2013-03-26T19:02:45Z We just read a fascinating article in The Atlantic about charitable giving. Those at the top of the economic pile give about 1% of their income to charity, while those at the bottom give about 3%. But that’s not the whole story. The more that affluent folks interact with those in need of charity, the more they give. Here’s the link to the article:


So what’s the lesson for us, especially with governments having to scale back their charitable support? Like everything else, it starts with consciousness.

Our membership in our community has both privileges and obligations. Chief among the latter is to think beyond our daily bubbles to ask: “What does my community need from me?”

That kind of question used to get asked weekly in churches, temples and synagogues. But with only 1 in 5 people now attending religious services regularly, where does it get asked now? What’s our new “church”?

Beth <![CDATA[Do we really throw out half the food we buy?]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1750 2013-03-14T18:32:56Z 2013-03-14T18:32:56Z Astounding, isn’t it? Statistics show that in many industrialized countries, we throw away almost 50% of our food. The whole system leaks — grocery stores and restaurants are guilty of tossing, too — but much of it happens in our own homes.

Beyond the obvious wastefulness, there are a lot of hidden issues surrounding this bad habit.

• It costs us money. If we better managed our grocery purchases upfront, we could cut 40% off our bill without even changing what we eat.

• It hurts the environment. The system that delivers our food takes a huge bite out of our planet. Growing food and shipping it consumes vast amounts of energy and other resources, and creates a significant amount of damaging carbon emissions.

• It contributes to food insecurity concerns. 1 in 10 people in Canada, and 1 in 7 in the US, are food-insecure, meaning they don’t have regular access to good food. What we buy and throw out could be redirected to them.

Thankfully, this is one bad habit that’s pretty easy to break. Here are some simple ways to make change.

1. Eat what is in your fridge today. When making food choices at home, eat what you have. Don’t allow things to spoil just because you don’t feel like eating that apple today. Eat your leftovers for lunch or repurpose them for the next day’s meal.

2. Make a list before shopping. A study out of the UK revealed that by simply making a grocery list and sticking to it, people can reduce food waste by as much as 20%.

3. Be careful, but not fussy. Studies show that much of the food we throw out is still consumable but we chuck it for cosmetic reasons. Of course, food safety is a priority, but did you know that Best Before dates aren’t about food safety? They are primarily about the freshness of the product.

Interested in learning more? Check out this cool UK site:


Beth <![CDATA[Auto Draft]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1760 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z 0 Beth <![CDATA[food waste]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1757 2013-03-13T15:15:14Z 2013-03-13T15:15:14Z 0 Beth <![CDATA[Auto Draft]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1753 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z 0 Beth <![CDATA[61%]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1682 2013-07-31T01:12:41Z 2013-03-13T10:00:14Z The number of Canadians who voted in the 2011 Federal Election. This is a decrease from post-WWII numbers, when 75% of Canadians cast ballots. Most disturbing, fewer young people are voting today.

Beth <![CDATA[What did the US election teach us about CC?]]> http://www.citizencapitalism.com/?p=1745 2012-11-27T19:29:49Z 2012-11-27T19:27:39Z One of the tenets of our nascent movement is personal responsibility. You have rights as a citizen, sure, but equally importantly, you have responsibilities.

We believe a critical responsibility you have is to yourself. It’s yours to do everything in your power to create the circumstances that will allow you to be happy, productive, and successful — however you define it. That would seem to align with conservative doctrine that says, to a certain extent, everybody’s circumstances are a product of their own hard work and ingenuity. Except they’re not. We can hugely influence, but rarely can we control.

Right next to personal responsibility comes the very human characteristic of responsibility for our contribution to the collective. We don’t live the “every man for himself” belief, and haven’t since we crawled out of the primordial muck.

Which brings us to this article.


We don’t share it for political reasons, but for ethnographic ones. The short summary is this: If you live in an environment where your everyday existence necessitates frequent contact with others, and ideally (ok, our bias) “others” is heterogeneous, you give a damn about them. You care about the role of government influencing the conditions that will let you, and others, be happy. You care about the role that business plays in supporting what your community wants to buy, where it wants to work, and how it wants to live. And you care about how well your neighbours are doing, just because they are your neighbours.

As the article points out, while citizens of cities voted overwhelmingly for the reelection of President Obama, Democrats don’t own cities. It’s not an ideological thing. It’s a responsibility thing. As in, recognizing that our success and happiness is dependent on the collective context, not just our own effort. We are all in this together.