The Participation Blog

The Future Is Here

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been facilitating a community group of concerned people in a small town around a large and highly controversial proposed mining project for more than 10 years. It may actually take another 10 years for it to come to fruition – if it ever does – and the beneficial life expectancy of the project is probably 75 years beyond that. The proponent has committed to keeping the group together for the life of the mine and through closure. This means that the people who will inherit the possible joys or sorrows haven’t been born yet. The group that I work with is very aware of that, which means we constantly work to recruit young, fresh people as new members, like local college and high school kids. They tend to come into the first meeting understandably clueless and cute as a box of kittens. But when they leave, if they do, the rest of us know they are the future of the community. Our little process gives them a front seat and active access to the complexity of the pros, cons, public policy, engineering, dialogue, environmental regulation, commerce – the greater good. They grow before our eyes and the rest of us end up hopeful that we just might be leaving democracy in good hands after all.