Acclaimed Democracy advocate Dave Meslin, has joined Armstrong Strategy Group (ASG) as Senior Associate for Democratic Innovation.
Dave is a renowned Toronto-based urbanist, community organizer, and author of the best-selling book Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up – described as a “handbook of democratic solutions.”
Meslin joined the firm after his appearance at ASG’s What’s the Big Idea salon speaker series in early March. “I love all of Dave’s ideas,” said John Armstrong, president of ASG. “What appeared clear to me during our discussion, however, is that most municipalities don’t have the resources available to implement these kinds of democratic improvements. So, I asked Dave if he’d join the firm so we could help municipalities strengthen their democracies, and he agreed.”
“This is a perfect match”, said Meslin. "John and ASG have an impressive track record of work that embraces innovative approaches, challenges the status quo, and highlights the power of collaboration and cross-pollination. I’m excited to join ASG’s talented team of strategists, planners, writers, researchers and designers.”
As we all work to rebuild our communities after Covid-19, all governments’ resources will be stretched, and they will have very little money to spend outside of core services. So, the question is how can we as a society keep making progress? Armstrong believes Democratic progress can be a strong driver. “It has a big impact with relatively low cost.”
The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the possibilities of multi-partisan collaboration, strong leadership and the power of collective public action. But breaking down cynicism, polarization and disengagement shouldn’t stop there. It should be fused into our democratic institutions at all levels and harnessed for other complex issues – including the fight to stem climate change. Collective action, more than ever before, is required to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Meslin’s 2010 TED Talk, “The Antidote to Apathy”, has been viewed over 1.8 million times and has been translated into 37 languages. Columnist Andrew Coyne describes Dave as “a force of nature – a one-man think tank/pressure group” and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi says, “You must listen to Dave Meslin. Agree or disagree with his prescriptions, he is the clearest voice in our country talking about how to fix our democracy and improve our lives as citizens.”
“Our goal,” said Meslin, “is to provide municipal governments with bold ideas and innovative tools, to transform local democracy. From voting reform, to improved User Experience Design and support for a strong local media, we’ll work with municipal leaders to build stronger, more engaged relationships with their residents.”
“There will be a lot of change coming out of the pandemic. It is our job to make those changes positives rather than negatives, in our corners of the world,” said Armstrong.
LINKS Dave Meslin’s Ted Talk - The Antidote to Apathy Armstrong Strategy Group’s Democratic Innovation Division Video clips of Meslin speaking at What’s The Big Idea? Dave Meslin’s book “Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy From the Ground Up” VIDEO: Meslin on CBC News: If Canada Had Proportional Representation (with Lego)