Day Five marks the end of the 2010 Global Forum
By Bailey LudlamLas Palmas University noted that as the European Citizens' Initiative is implemented and mechanisms for discussion are proposed and utilized, it is important to continue communication not only among citizens but also with parliament and legislators.
The forms of communication and participation among citizens is a topic that remains to be debated. Grace Cainoy Weitman of Empowerment Congress in Los Angeles shared some of her experiences in attempts to rally the local communities. Weitman noted that most of the time local problems such as road and sewer issues can be addressed through community discussions. In Los Angeles, California Empowerment Congress holds annual summits and works with the community throughout the year to create better connections between office holders and residents. While Weitman notes that most of the time issues can be addressed more easily after talking about the problems with the community, the sheer size of a region can make communication difficult.
On a global perspective, Amjad Atallah of the New America Foundation Middle East Task Force illustrated the sheer importance of communication in countries where direct democracy has yet to be implemented and totalitarian regimes currently exist. In the Middle East, he said, globalization and new media are acting as accelerators for not only concepts of direct democracy but also information in general. However, the use of new media to discuss these concepts and spread the ideas throughout the regions, is not quite as easy as one might think. Unlike, places like the United States where social networking sites can help launch or win a campaign, the use of social media in other parts of the world is far more restricted.
Additionally, Attalah noted that the largest hindrance of the establishment of direct democracy in countries like those in the Middle East is the contradictions by democratic countries. For example, the United States is a symbol of freedom but when Arabs are stopped in airports to be verified and searched the contradictions in United States policies is highlighted and leads to discouragement and doubts in direct democracy.
In the spirit of continued communication a "wildcard box" was used throughout the five day conference to collect questions and suggestions by conference attendees. All submitted questions were added to a voting system that the crowd participated anonymously following forum discussions. Participants voted on a scale of 1 to 10. Additionally, attendees were identified as either U.S. or foreign attendees to analyze differences in opinion. According to sponsors, results of the votes will be made available on the 2010 Global Forum website.
The conference, although rich with information and speakers, was not only for learning but for the sharing of ideas, drawing people around the world together and implementing the suggestions and ideas made at the conference. In closing, Joe Mathews read the draft of the San Francisco Declaration on Direct Democracy.
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