Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Participation ?

The Arts, Culture and Society conference is over and except for the lack of participation, it was successful. The lack of participation killed me. Even folks in my program didn’t show up in mass and this disheartens me. It was advertised in three newspapers, information sent out to multi-cultural organizations, to schools (lower through college) and the like. We had some members from organizations show up such as the Boca Peace Corner and Indy-media and a few folks retired but who spends their time with activist causes (these were the most active of everyone). But mostly, a slim attendance. One lecture garnered around 60 people and one panel about 40 people. But when all is said and done, I am sad that there were so few people around to hear these excellent presentations by professors, students, community members and the like. The reason I am harping on this issue is that the lack of participation is a sign of a greater problem existing in the world at large. Over and over again, from professors to students to a guy waiting for a bus, people bitch about lack of participation. I hear that there are few places around for folks to get together and talk--debate issues. People complain that their voice is not heard. Students, while I was organizing this shindig with three other fantastic women, complained that they did not have a more of a voice in the process or in the conference itself. Being a democratic minded group, we opened the door for both other student’s voices and participation and what did we get? Only a handful of student who wanted to help, wanted to participate. I did not see those who complained around to help or participate. But again, this is a symptom of a larger problem. How do we get people to participate in the public sphere? How do we get them to care? How do we change the core values that suggest we should sit in our little homes with the door closed watching TV? How do we change the structure of our society? Will it take an all out tragedy to accomplish this?

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