One Smart Cookie

When my brother and his wife split up some years ago, my sister-in-law moved her family to Florida where she was able to obtain a great job as a nurse. While it was a sound choice it also meant I lost the opportunity to develop anything but a casual relationship with my two nieces. That’s changed just recently when Jillian moved back to Canada.

Imagine my surprise and delight after all these years to find we have a lot in common, particularly when it comes to our shared entrepreneurial drive and wanting to make a difference in our communities.

Jillian has blossomed into a beautiful, intelligent, hardworking young woman who continues to impress me with her innate leadership abilities including a commitment to ongoing growth and development. This leadership often manifests itself in her continuing reflection and questioning.

Just recently she sent me an email explaining that since Canada Day she’s had this thing bothering her. She went on to explain that in the bar where she was working (one of her three jobs) she had put on the Canada Day live stream thinking people would be interested.

Unfortunately as soon as politicians spoke, customers wanted it turned off, clearly conveying to her that people just don’t seem to trust their government. 

In her email, Jillian went on to write that polls have said people don’t vote because they have simply given up on their government, and only 30% of cities in most of Ontario (where she now lives) are showing up at the polls.

“Clearly”, she writes,  “this is a dynamic disconnect from politics and the community. Is this how it’s always been? How, on what scale, and simply WHAT can be done to restore (or create) the bridge between politics and the community? Or, do you think it isn’t necessary as long as we can empower people to be part of their community where they will in turn learn they can affect their politics?”

Once I got over the shock of her having asked such an astute question at such a young age, I had to admit I didn’t have a ready answer.

While it is clear there is an increase in cynicism towards politics, difficulty and complexity in accessing political knowledge, a lack of incentive to vote, and a decrease in the sense of duty to vote, I think Jillian may have hit it on the head when she suggests that ultimately it’s about a growing sense of alienation and a reduced sense of community.

After all when you get right down to it, people need to know their community cares about them before they care about their community. And, I have no doubt that Jillian is exactly the kind of community builder who is going to help address those gaps. Can’t wait to see what she does next. 

Posted on 07-11-14


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