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Open Letter to Council Jan 13 FINAL

Open Letter to Council Jan 13 FINAL

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Published by: The Hamilton Spectator on Jan 13, 2013
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03/14/2013

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January13,2013AnopenlettertoMayorBratinaandMembersofHamiltonCityCouncil,Weunderstandyoumaybeconsideringthe
OurVoice.OurHamilton.
projectattheGeneralIssuesCommitteemeetingonJanuary14,2013.Werespectfullysubmitthislettertoprovidesomeinformationforyourconsiderationoftheissue,alongwitharequesttospeakasadelegation.TogetherwiththeCityofHamilton,wechosetobesilentthelastfewdaysandlistentothecommentsthathavebeenmade.Wenowknowthissilencewasamistake.Webelieveinhavingconversationseventhoughattimestheymaybedifficult.Webelieveininclusion,diversityofopinionandrespectforall.Thesearevaluesweholddearandoursilencehasbeencontrarytothosevalues.Ourjobistobeguardianoftheprocess,andtoensureallvoicesarevaluedandheard.
Throughthisletter,andanotheronetothecitizensofHamilton,wearespeakingupsothattheconversationcanbefuller,richerandopen.
Tostart,wewouldliketotakeresponsibilityformanyoftheeventsthathavetranspiredsinceJanuary7th.Specifically,wearesorryforaskingforclarificationaboutwhatHSRis,andforplanninganeventonJanuary17thwhichconflictswithanothercommunityevent.WetakeresponsibilityforthesecuritybreachesonourwebsitethatallowedavirustobeinsertedandfornotbeingmorerigidwiththemoderationofourCommunityPrioritiessurvey.WecreatedthePinterestpageandthereforetakeresponsibilityfortheimagesthatappearedthere.
Forthiswearesorry.
Therehavebeensomewhohaveappearedtobemorevocalandpassionatethisweek.
Theloudestvoicesdonotrepresentallandbehindthoseloudvoiceshavebeenmanyotherswhohavenotbeenheard.
It’seasytolosesightofthosewhowanttoparticipatewhenallyouhearisnegativity,orwhenthereareveryloudvoicesspeaking.Weknowfromexperienceitishardertogivevoicetowhatyoudowant,andeasiertocriticizeandsaywhatyoudonotwant.Hundredsofpeoplehaveaskedtobesignedupforthenewsletterandhavealreadyparticipatedintheonlineopportunities.Therearedifferentvoicessayingverydifferentthings.Wewanttobeclear–itdoesn’tmeantheloudvoicesaren’timportantandwedefinitelywanttohearfromthem.Werespecttheimportantissuestheyhaveraised.Buttheydon’tspeakforallHamiltonians,andtheloudnessanddisrespectofsomehavesilencedthevoicesofothers.
 
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Importantissueshavebeenraisedthatrequiremoreconversation.
DistrustintheCity’sdecision-makingandspendingchoices,DialoguePartners’andtheCity’scredibility,useoftheinputfromthisconversationandotherengagementprocesses,respectandinclusionofallvoicesinCitygovernance,someparticipant’sexperienceofCityhostedpublicengagementprocesses,andthesubstantiveissueathand–Cityservices.Thereisapassion,interestanddesireinthecommunitytotalkaboutthesethings.
It’shardtoconveyrespect,openness,curiosityandtrustworthinessin140charactersorless
.We’restillfiguringoutwhatthismeansfortheuseofTwitterinsituationsofmistrustandemotion.Weknowfromexperienceyoucan’tresolveconflictinshortburstsofopinion,anditrequiresindepthconversation.Youalsocan’thaveafullandthoughtfulconversationinsoundbites,andyoucan’tsolvecomplexproblemsthatwayeither.
Neverunderestimatethepowerofagroup
.We’vealwaysknown,respected,andadvocatedforthepowerofpeople’svoices.WethinkTwitterusersaskedimportantquestionsabouttheproject,ourrole,ourpayment,andourknowledge.However,somewhereinthetweetingfrenzyonMondayandTuesdaythetonebecameabouttakingdownDialoguePartnersinsteadoftalkingaboutCityservices,Cityneeds,orbuildingacommunity.
Ameaningful,inclusiveprocessiscritical.
Theprocesswehavedesignedfor
OurVoice.OurHamilton
.isinclusive,focusedonarichandthoughtfulconversationaboutCityservicesdesignedtogatherinputinwaysthatworksforallHamiltonians.WestandbytheprocesswehavedesignedandbelieveitistherightonefortheCity.WebelieveitiscriticallyimportantthattheprocessengagewithALLHamiltoniansfromallwalksoflife,andfrommanydifferentexperiencesanddemographics.Ourprocesswilldothat.Weknowagrouphasorganizedovertheuseofadifferentonlinetool–we’reveryfamiliarwiththistoolbutweknowthatonecooltooldoesn’treacheveryone,allowforrespectfuldiscourse,taketheconversationbeyondasurfacelevelorincreaseunderstanding.Oneonlinetoolisn’tareplacementtoameaningfulconversationwithallHamiltonians.
Publicengagementcanbeemotional,controversialanddoesn’tflowinastraightline.
We’vealwaysknownthat,andwe’vealwaysexpectedtohavetoadaptandbeflexibleinaprocesssowecanberesponsivetowhatemergesandtopeople’sneeds.IttakescouragetoNOTjumptojudgmentorconclusionwhenvoicesgetloudandtoallowspaceforadiversityofviewsinafullconversation.
Therearereasonstohirefirmsfromoutsidethecommunitythatdon’thaveabias,opinionorstakeintheconversation.
HavingastatedopiniononCityservices,aviewonCityHall,advocatingforyourownservicestoberetained,belittlingthosewhohavedifferentviewsthatyoudo–thesekindsofthingswouldimpacttheengagementprocesssignificantlyandwouldnotservetheneedsofallHamiltonians.Hiringsomeonefromoutsidethecommunitymeanstheyneedtolearnmoreaboutthecommunity,butitalsomeanstheydon’thaveastakeintheoutcomeoftheconversation.

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