Tonight in Vancouver I’m acting as a provocateur at an event sponsored by my friends and colleagues at Waterlution. Water City 2040 is a ten-city scenario planning process which engages people about the future of water across 10 Canadian cities. Tonight’s event is part of a pilot cohort to see what the process can offer to the conversation nationally.
What’s powerful about this work is that it’s citizens convening, hosting and engaging with one another. This is not a local government engagement process or a formal consultation. This is a non-profit organization convening deliberative conversations. The advantage of that is that the process is free from the usual constraints that governments put on engagement. So tonight we are thinking about possibilities that push out 25 years into the future and absolutely everything is one the table. In fact I’m asking people to consider that in these kinds of complex systems the biggest problem you have in addressing change comes from your assumptions about what will remain the same. It’s one thing to confront demographic, economic and environmental change, but are we also questioning things we take for granted like governance models, planning mindsets, innovation processes, value systems and infrastructure?
Organizations like Waterlution offer an unconstrained look at the future and if local governments are smart, they will pay attention to what’s happening here. (And they are – Metro Vancouver has sent a film crew to document the evening!).
Waterlution teaches these skills to citizen practitioners, government employees and private sector staff through our Waterlution Art of Hosting Water Dialogues workshops. We have workshops happening in April 20-22 on Bowen Island and April 27-29 near Toronto. If this is work you want to do more of, think about joining us. And if you contact me to inquire, you might get a little incentive…