Task force wants Vancouverites to get connected
David Beattie of Just Say Hello Campaign wants to get Vancouverites talking through a few simple words. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
More street festivals, condo designs that encourage tenant interaction, and “say hello” campaigns could be an answer to re-engage the community in civic affairs, according to a Vancouver report.
The Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force released Thursday recommended 19 priority actions and several recommendations to improve how the city communicates with its populace, engage newcomers and to increase voter turnout, among other goals.
“Civic engagement matters because as a city we cannot grapple with tough challenges like affordability, inequality or climate change with an isolated, disengaged population,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement.
The recommendations included promoting the city’s 3-1-1 helpline for non-English speaking newcomers since the taskforce found it wasn’t that well known.
Local artists could also be recruited to help promote the electoral process, the report suggested. In 2011, only 34.6% of registered voters in Vancouver bothered to cast a ballot.
Vancouverite David Beattie, a part-time English instructor, has taken one of the recommendations into his own hands. In the past three weeks, he’s been organizing meet-ups at coffee shops touting signs inviting others to “just say hello.”
“The whole idea is for this to become self perpetuating,” the 54-year-old said.
His goal is to convince others to write their own “hello” signs — whether it’s on a poster or a simple napkin — in public places to encourage strangers to talk with each other.
“It’s a piece of paper with three words written on it and you have a potential connection.”