In October, I gave a talk at Ignite Waterloo that I called “Make your voice heard.”  I was eager to share this with you earlier but couldn’t until recently. I like the idea though that I can make this my first post of 2012 on this blog. I think it sets the tone nicely for what I do here and I hope that we can work together to change the world and make Kitchener a better place to live over the next year.

My talk in writing

What follows is the written version of the talk I planned to present. It’s pretty close to what I said. I offer it here in part so you can decide if you’d like to watch the video and  to make it easier for you if you’d like to remember what I said (or find this post via a search engine).

Make your VOICE heard

My aim is to ignite a spark inside you the desire to:

  • Make your voice heard
  • Make a difference in your community
  • Make the world a better place to live

These are my perspectives from King & Ottawa.

I used my voice to promote:

You should do the same.

You may not always get the results you are looking. I haven’t. But you never will if you’re never heard.

In one form or another, I’ve been making my voice heard most of my life.

  • I started by working for change inside the system.
  • In high school, I worked in elections knocking on doors, dropping pamphlets and putting up signs.
  • I later organized volunteers and communications for campaigns.

Partisan politics may not be for you.

  • But you can write letters to the editor, join municipal advisory committees, give feedback during consultations held by any level of government or join groups that push for what you believe.
  • For me, it also meant working for non-profits and charities.

But if you do nothing else, make your voice heard by voting.

  • The ballot is still the best way to bring about change.
  • And today, if you join 2 of the federal parties, you can have a say in their next leader and what choices are offered to Canadians in four years.

I was looking for new ways to promote change when I found Twitter.

  • During the great prorogation debate of 2010, I discovered that taking a stand helped attract people who wanted to listen.
  • Sharing content including news stories that weren’t being shared also attracted followers.

Then I met a young woman who had a blog about Kitchener that was getting some attention.

  • I had something to say about Kitchener too. Something that wouldn’t fit in 140 characters too and so I started my blog “Perspectives from King & Ottawa.”
  • You can thank Hilary later!

I use my voice to push for pragmatic, progressive changes that make my neighbourhood, Kitchener, Waterloo Region and our world better.  Change based on social justice and is environmentally-friendly.

How will you use your voice to make a difference?

Put you words into action

  • It’s not enough to stand on your soapbox and pontificate.
  • You need to live your words as best as you can.

You might do what I’ve done such as:

The options are limitless.

Know why you are speaking out.

Here are three good reasons why I do what I do! [My wife & kids]

• 1, 2, 3 – Make your voice heard!

Get out there now and make:

  • a difference in your community
  • and the world a better place.

What I didn’t say but wish I could have included

How to make a difference:

• Promote and critique ideas not people or personalities
• Be constructive
• Be factual
• Take a position / State your opinion
• Build relationships and participate in communities that suit your interests
• Avoid a sense of entitlement—no one owes you anything.

Making your voice heard in the private sector

My talk primarily focused on making your voice heard by governments and the public sector. I do believe that is important but there is also value in making your voice heard by the private sector too especially as a consumer or advocate for social justice.

One of my favourite times that I made my voice heard was when I ran into difficulty a number of years ago getting Bell Expressvu installed at our apartment in Toronto. As I recall, our appointment was missed. I then found it extremely difficult to find out when someone would be coming–waiting extremely long to even talk to someone who usually was not very helpful. This happened several times and there was no such thing as a manager to talk to and even the escalation unit didn’t call as promised.

I decided to change our decision to go with Bell but I didn’t want to just take back our satellite dish because I felt that would be a silent protest and wouldn’t make a difference. I wanted someone who with responsibility in the company to know my decision and why so I found the phone number for the head office and called the president. I just got voice mail but later that same day, the president returned my call, listened to my concerns and apologized. He had his staff arrange for our installation to happen as fast as possible.

I was happy that I was heard. I believe that changes to Bell Expressvu’s customer service happened that same year. I don’t take credit but I do hope that my experience helped prompt the changes.

Speaking of making your voice heard…

I am working on follow up posts to my concerns about:

Have I inspired you?

How will you make your voice heard? How will you change the world or make Kitchener a better place to live?

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