A Call to a Deeper Democracy

We have two options, most of the time: to interpret the “worsening” of conditions around us as a call to despair while disparaging and demanding more of “those in charge,” or to look closer at the power that we these and those within our sphere of influence or invitation hold to do something about it.

In this two-part podcast, Cormac Russell and Peter Pula explore what a path might look like as we consistently choose the latter, and why this is a critical act in times that are clamoring for a deepening of our democracies.


Below, find a teaser of the discussion as woven together by Peter Pula on Axiom News:

Ever since members of the human race have commenced settlements and domesticated animals as a feature of organizing society, issues like COVID-19 have been present. Cormac Russell, author of Rekindling Democracy, says there has been at least a decade-long awareness that we would be contending with pandemics.

The encroachment on the planet has consequences. As we scale up and we cut deeper into the Amazon rainforest, etcetera, there are fallouts for all of us, he says.

“We are in a context and in a time when our awareness one way or the other is forced towards a pandemic-conscious future, the limits of what institutions can do about that, and among other things, an economically grim decade ahead,” he says.

In Rekindling Democracy, Cormac makes the case that, “if you’re waiting for the ‘big man’ to get his act together so he can come and save you, or do no harm to you, you’re going to be disappointed. So, you’d better get organized, you’d better find your power. And you’d better find ways of keeping yourself and other people safe. It’s its neighbour-to-neighbour, citizen-to-citizen, where our greatest hope is.”

Cormac calls for a deeper democracy. One well beyond current politics and systems for voting. He says voting could be seen as an act of giving your power away rather than actually exercising it.



Illustrations by Yvonne Hollandy


Going Further:



About the Lead Author

Cormac Russell
Cormac Russell
Cormac Russell is Managing Director of Nurture Development, Director of ABCD Europe and a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago. He has trained communities, agencies, NGOs and governments in ABCD and other strengths-based approaches in Kenya, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia. In January 2011 Cormac was appointed to the Expert Reference Group on Community Organising and Communities First, by Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society in the UK which he served on for the term of the Group. Examples of recent work include: Leading all national sporting organizations in Canada, in conjunction with the Canadian Council for Ethics in Sport, to adopt a shared vision as to how sport can become an asset for community building. This is effecting significant changes in the structures of major sporting organizations but also at a local community level in terms of community empowerment and citizen driven development. Advising I&Dea in the UK on the development of an asset based approach to health and on addressing health inequalities in low income communities as well as how an assets approach can improve community health and well-being. Partnering with Youth Work Ireland on a national program involving hundreds of youth practitioners and thousands of young citizens to develop a strong culture of youth led initiatives. Working in partnership with the University of Limerick and Atlantic Philanthropies in Ireland to infuse an ABCD approach across the entire city of Limerick. Part of this process involved organizing an entire neighborhood to address issues of loneliness, fear and intimidation and to support citizen driven development. The long-term vision is of a city that puts citizens and communities in the driving seat, through processes of neighborhood organizing and bottom up planning and where services are organized in the way in which community is organized. 

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