Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Looking for nominations for Calgary’s “Most Dedicated Activist”

FFWD Weekly is putting together the ballot for their annual “Best of Calgary” readers’ choice awards.

I'm helping to gather a list of names of individual people (not groups) to be nominated for the “Most Dedicated Activist” category.

Please post your suggested nominations in the comments here (or contact me privately if you don’t want to comment here) along with a brief explanation of why you’re nominating them.

Please note, I got FFWD to change the category from “Most Active Activist” to “Most Dedicated Activist” last year so we could have a chance to recognize the contributions of more than just privileged white guys like me with lots of spare time on our hands. :-) The nominees don't need to have done the most, and they don't need to have garnered the most attention; they just need to have shown real dedication — within their capacities — to working for social change.

5 comments:

rainbow said...

I nominate Grant Neufeld because he has been at a lot of events.

Grant Neufeld said...

I’m really trying to get this opened up to someone other than me (I’ve won the past 3 years). The reason I’ve been able to participate in so much is because I have a whole basket of privileges (gender, “race”, economic, health, etc.) giving me more time and resources than most other folks. There are tons of people in this city doing tremendous work for social change who haven’t been as visible as me in the work. I’d like to use the FFWD award to help change that a little.

Polly Jones said...

I thought in the past that one could just write in the name of the person they were voting for...will there be a selected list this year? That seems somewhat problematic because then who gets on the list could be the result of bias or even randoms factors...For instance, I just happened to seek out your blog today wondering if you might have done the TED project for something interesting to look at...So, I could offer my ideas for nominations now but, normally, I would not be aware that 'Best of Calgary' was coming up.

Could you clarify? I'll give my names...just from someone who does surveys though, I wonder how this goes from FFWD readers' vote to a selected group of activists who know each other's vote. I promise that I'm not trying to be hypercritical, I just want to consider how this works.

Grant Neufeld said...

There will still be a spot for people to write in whomever they want. Many of FFWD’s categories last year had a number of choices listed, along with a spot to write-in your own. I’ll be compiling the nominations I receive with the folks at FFWD to form the list of names to be presented for the category (along with the “fill in the” blank).

I’m helping out with the nominations for the activist category in the hope that we may finally see someone win who isn’t just whomever gets the most media attention (i.e., someone other than privileged guys like me). In the many years FFWD has been running it, the award has yet to be given to anyone who wasn’t a privileged white male. (It’s been so stark that, a few year’s back, a runner up was the captain of this city’s big corporate hockey team.) That’s also why I lobbied them to change the category from “Most Active” to “Most Dedicated” — to expand who might be included.

The time-frame for this current nomination process is quite short right now (the list is to be finalized next week), so that’s basically all there will be to it this year. I hope that, for next year, there can be a better and more broadly engaging process across the various realms/sectors/whatever of activism in this city (and not just me scrambling to pull together some names in a rush).

The list of nominees this year will most certainly carry all sorts of bias — although I’m hoping that will be an at least somewhat constructive bias in that, other than my general call-out for nominations online (email lists, this blog, tweet and activist groups on Facebook), I have been actively seeking nominations of marginalized individuals (although I will have certainly missed many).

I’m operating on the premise that I can hopefully push it to be a little better than previous years. And maybe next year can then improve on this.

This all brings up the questions around how we recognize and honour the contributions of people working for positive social change in this city (and how we don’t).

Can we even accept a place for things like awards and honours in this work — or are those inherently hierarchical? What could we do to take things like the “Most Dedicated Activist” and other awards and turn them to constructive and positive use?

I don’t know.

Polly Jones said...

"Can we even accept a place for things like awards and honours in this work — or are those inherently hierarchical?"

This is a good question. I was thinking if it would be a good idea to set up some online award within the activist community, but then I didn't like the idea of voting...for instance, those with radical ideas might not be as "popular" in votes. Your efforts do inspire me to want to consider ways of recognizing activists...I was thinking it could be fun to use to my blog to feature activists in the community...a monthly sort of thing maybe...I know it would be informative for me to learn more about what others are doing...

I will offer my two suggestions for nominees knowing that there is a lot of bias built in...for example, I am really not attuned to the work of activists within some of the newer immigrant communities...In any case, I would really like to see Peg Askin and Liza Lorenzetti among the nominations. Both have a long history of community organizing; there most recent projects should be easily accessible through an internet search. Peg does a lot of important writing/coverage of issues from a Marxist perspective. Liza teaches a course on social action at the Faculty of Social Work.

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