Sharing As Democracy – DemFest21

By Tim Hollo October 29, 2021

What does borrowing dress up clothes or lending a lawnmower have to do with democracy?

Quite a lot, as it happens! When you do it thoughtfully.

When the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy announced a call for pre-recorded videos for their DemFest21, celebrating local democracy, I knew I had to do one explaining the participatory democracy experiment I ran in my 2019 election campaign (you can watch that here), but I also wanted to challenge people to think about how everyday life can be geared towards democratic practice.

In my writing on ecological democracy, I’m trying to build an understanding of democracy that goes a lot further than how we make political decisions, but takes in all the various ways we come together to make decisions about our common future. And grassroots practices of all sorts are a space where democracy can be done very well. Or very badly.

In this video for DemFest, I talk about how the Buy Nothing Groups I set up in Canberra, where we borrow and lend, give and ask, in a completely non-transactional way, are a way of building better practices of democracy. The way these groups work, they’re all about negotiating relationships with others, taking other people’s concerns and issues into account alongside our own, shifting from transaction to interaction.

These groups are, in a very real way, at least as much about cultivating social cohesion as they are about reducing consumption. They’re mixing the glue that binds us together as a community.

I’d love your thoughts! What examples do you have of democratic practices in every day life?

The DemFest program, organised by The Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy, runs from 1-5 November.

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