Six years ago this month we registered the non-profit society that we now call ‘Springtide’. As 2018 comes to a close, I’m writing today to share some reflections on how things have changed over the last six years, and what you can expect from Springtide in the year ahead. And, as is our year-end tradition: I’m going to ask for your help.
When we founded Springtide in 2012, I had a couple of feelings that I couldn’t quite shake. These notions remain true for me today:
- Politics as usual isn’t working. The culture of doing politics is needlessly mean-spirited, divisive, and insular. The political system itself seems to encourage these kinds of behaviors
- Too many citizens are isolated from the politics of their communities. Some are isolated because they don’t care about politics. Others are isolated – not because they don’t care about politics – but, because they feel like those in power don’t seem to care about them. Meanwhile, those with lobbying skills, connections, and a nuanced understanding of the political process and culture have a disproportionate influence on government policy.
So in late 2012, we founded Springtide. Our aim was to shine a light on how our political system was actually working and how it could be made to work better. The feelings that inspired me to work on Springtide six years ago are as true for me today as they were back then. But, in many ways, it’s a different world today than it was in 2012:
- When we open our news feeds we see daily evidence of anti-democratic forces and attitudes at work.
- Authoritarian leaders and candidates are seeking and winning political office around the world.
- Extremist populist movements are working hard to normalize hate-based policies and anti-democratic processes.
So what can we do about it? I’ve spent much of the last year considering this question, and I continue to think about it every day. For now, a few things feel clear to me:
- The solution has to be about more than simply telling politicians and governments what they ought to be doing better (though, I’m sure we can agree: there are many things they could be doing much better).
- More than ever, citizens need to recommit themselves to democratic ideals, where our democracy isn’t just something we have, but something we do.
- If we want political leadership that nurtures democratic culture, we need to cultivate that kind of leadership with educational programming, learning resources and a supportive community of practise.
- There is no quick or simple fix for the problems facing democracy today.
Here’s the kind of work Springtide envisions taking on in 2019. We’ll do as much of it as our resources allow:
- We will focus on activities that educate, inform and empower citizens stepping up to lead change through politics in their communities. While we recognize that many of the problems in our politics are systemic, the solution to any system problem depends on the people in that system being awake to the nature of those problems.
- We will set the table for gatherings of everyday citizens and civic leaders who are committed to practising better politics in our corner of the world.
- We will curate resources, articles, and wisdom on topics of better politics and democratic reform from the thinkers, activists and leaders who inspire us. We’ll share what we curate with you.
- We will run programs and develop learning resources on better politics and democratic reform. Our programming will be a mix of one-off events (half-day and evening events) and deeper, multi-day learning programs. The resources we will create will be a combination of articles, video and podcasts.
- We (Springtide board, staff, and volunteers) will learn with you, as we go, engaging with the tough questions, rather than presuming to have the best answer.
- We will communicate better with donors and supporters about the progress and challenges we encounter in our work.
Can you pitch in with a year-end donation to make this work possible?
The more committed we are to the work of strengthening democracy, the more clear it is to me that we must build independent sources of revenue for our work at Springtide. Over the past year we have been less active than in previous years. In part, this was because some of our traditional revenue sources have dried up (such as the Democracy 250 fund). We’ve also been reluctant to take on new projects without a clear funding model or strategic plan for affecting the kind of change we wish to see.
Now that we have a plan, I’m asking you to help us fund this work.
As a registered charity, all contributions to Springtide are eligible for a charitable donation tax credit. Donations must be received by midnight on December 31st, 2018 in order to qualify for a 2018 tax receipt.
The value of credits for donations varies by province. For Nova Scotians: a credit of 29% applies to contributions under $200, and a credit of 50% applies to amounts contributed in excess of $200. So, a $200 donation generates a credit of $47.58, while a $400 donation generates a credit of $147.58.
Thank you for considering supporting our work.
Executive Director @ Springtide