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Citizens Handbook Assignment Management

Connected disconnection

The cartoon above appeared in a 1907 issue of the magazine Punch

The caption reads: "These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady is receiving an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results." They are turned away from each other, antennae protruding from their hats. In their laps are little black telegraph boxes, spewing ticker tape. Today the cartoon has become reality, and the source of distraction the cell phone.

Like so much of technology, the cell phone has served to undermine human relationships. Software platforms such as Facebook have exploited a yearning for community by providing a fake version where friends barely know, cooperate or help one another. Sophisticated marketing systems using billion dollar computers will continue to coral our attention and our time. We need to wake up and envigorate the social worlds they undermine.

Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can't you put it down?


The Citizen's Handbook / Home / About / Table of Contents
The Citizen's Handbook / Charles Dobson / citizenshandbook.org

The Troublemaker's Teaparty is an updated and expanded print version of The Citizen's Handbook. It contains all of the handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots wilt, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from Amazon or from New Society Publishers.

About the Citizen's Handbook


Copyright

The Citizens Handbook can be shared, redistributed, modified and incorporated into other websites and publications under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Contact

To contact Charles Dobson email cdobson at citizenshandbook.org

History

The first print edition of the Citizens Handbook (cover above) was produced in 1995 as part of a project led by a remarkable woman, Chris Warren, who was then working in the Social Planning Department of the City of Vancouver. She gathered a group of citizens together to talk about the effects of aging under the heading of Ready or Not. As a result of these discussions, she shifted the whole project towards what participants were really interested in: How to organize their own neighbourhoods. Chris Warren received a lot of flak from city administrators and politicians, even though the first addition of the Citizens Handbook recommended many ways that citizens could work cooperatively with city government.

A year later, The Vancouver CommunityNet put up the first web edition of the Citizens Handbook, making it the first complete grassroots organizing guide on the web. Soon, everyone began using The Handbook for everything. Google, in a cheeky move, ranked the new site higher than the huge US Citizens Handbook site which listed all the services provided by the US government. Ralph Nader's site, Public Citizen, then adopted the Handbook as its grassroots organizing guide. The Handbook helped Germans address a serious pollution issue, educators in New York a serious funding issue; and oceanographers in the US trying to change public policy to protect sea life. More recently it has been used extensively by citizens in the Ukraine.

Over the years the focus of the Handbook has changed. It still emphasizes working cooperatively with government, because democratic government remains the best ally of citizens. But confrontational tactics have been added because governments are often slow to respond or, obsessed with control, refuse to respond. We continue to recommend cooperation before confrontation. And we always recommend a genuine attempt to see an issue from the point of view of those whose difficult job is to address public interest issues.


The Citizen's Handbook / Home / About / Table of Contents
The Citizen's Handbook / Charles Dobson / citizenshandbook.org

The Troublemaker's Teaparty is an updated and expanded print version of The Citizen's Handbook. It contains all of the handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots wilt, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from Amazon or from New Society Publishers.