Climate chaos, cannabis, housing scarcity and deliberation. These were the confronting issues in public engagement in 2019. To represent the span of a year through these issues might seem reductive. But their complexities share a common theme: How does community engagement navigate current global challenges? Equally, how can engaged communities meet the real demands and urgencies of our catastrophically changing environment? This is not to lay a blind spot bare. But serves to underpin a pivotal intersection between public engagement and the intractable issues facing our communities and our habituation in the twenty-first century.
Reading against the perceived pitfalls of public engagement in climate action, Community engagement steps up participation in climate action demonstrates how, at a local level, community engagement has the power to communicate the irreversible risks that climate chaos poses in a tangible way. This can impact the at ‘arms-length’ thinking that obfuscates the urgency of climate chaos competing with seemingly more immediate issues. Online engagement rises to the global affordable housing challenge looks at the inefficacy of tackling supply as a one-fix solution to housing stress, working poverty, unstable accommodation, homelessness and swelling population growth. For the narrow criteria simply doesn’t reflect the array of community needs, reflections, ideas and input into housing issues. And, turning specifically to Canada - the first G7 country and only second in the world to fully legalise cannabis consumption – Why Canada’s Cannabis Act is a green-field opportunity for online engagement identifies that coupling the volatility of an issue like cannabis with the requirement that local municipalities engage their communities presents fertile ground for online community participation.
The need for increasing public participation – not to mention increasing the pathways to its augmentation – remains paramount to challenges communities face globally. Squarely facing issues of climate chaos and affordable housing through the lens of public engagement, for instance, local level engagement cuts through swathe of government inaction and the failure to communicate environmental urgency. Equally, with 7.7 billion people on earth, a figure that has increased threefold since the 1950s, working with communities to improve housing affordability for vulnerable populations becomes a priority as equity-seeking residents and communities will be the most vulnerable to impacts of climate chaos.
Evidence-based with case examples from the UK, Canada, USA and Australia, this ebook not only serves as a commentary on issues that have challenged public engagement in 2019. But it brings together the transformative potential of engaged communities. Too often, in relation to themes as big as climate chaos, cannabis laws and housing scarcity, public discourse around community engagement is not developed and questions fall away. This is not to insist on their abiding connection. But to actively, and reflectively, comprehend their intractable intersection.