Listen to entire program here:
Rockin’ Robbee: 31:50 & 55:30
In Windsor there is a lot of media attention on city council and the development plans for the downtown area. All the planning seems to be done behind the scenes with the public brought in only when a public relations show is needed with ideas and plans already in place. Witness the sham public consultations during the debate over the aquatic centre. Council and developers appeared to already have a plan in place costing tens of millions of dollars and residents in politically powerless neighbourhoods were forced to give up their amenities so the city could come up with funds for operating costs for the new aquatic centre. So much for citizen empowerment, as when asked if they wanted to give up their amenities, residents gave a resounding NO that went unheard. The continuing plans for the old arena continue in the same mode and it is hard to tell what will happen to the Glengarry neighbourhood as gentrification gets underway and the Water World community anchor disappears. With this in mind, the experience of Occupy Windsor and the homeless people we came into contact with, questions about citizen empowerment – how you get it, keep it and use it – need to be examined
In Kitchener, the Working Centre serves over 10,000 people a month where they find assistance and support for job searching, transitional housing, meals, bicycle repair, used furniture, and access to computers. Now, many cities including Windsor have such support services, but not under one roof and not, I believe, run by workers themselves. Joe Mancini is the Director of the Working Centre and he joined us by phone from the centre in Kitchener.
Mancini described the “barn building motiff” of the Kitchener/Waterloo area and the attending value of cooperativism that is crucial to allowing the Working Centre to exist and thrive. Mancini describes the purpose of the Working Centre here:
A key element of the Centre is the concept of subsidiarity: that a central authority should only carry out tasks that cannot be done more efficiently at the local level. Imagine for a moment that Canadians were debating how to share resources at a more local level instead of having to fight a distant authoritarian central government bent on squandering our wealth on war, attacking working people, destroying the capacity of First Nations to survive, and threatening to cut pensions.
Kitchener/Waterloo’s The Working Centre is a model of how we could more cooperatively and democratically determine priorities that meet peoples’ needs in this city.