Wednesday, December 5, 2012

GRASS ROOTS DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

I love Grass roots democracy - petitions, protests and letter writing campaigns. People standing-up for what the believe in. Demanding change or accountability.

A lot of people have given-up on being able to change the system. "What does it matter, they are going to do what they are going to do". The you can not fight city hall attitude prevails in a society that is becoming more an more apathetic.

So imagine my surprise and delight at the opportunity to participate in a meaningful display of grassroots advocacy on the campus of Memorial University yesterday afternoon. Part of my daily routine is to walk around the campus during my afternoon break. I heard some chanting, like a beagle searching for rabbits, I instinctively moved towards the gathering at the crosswalk to the Aquaarena  across from Field House.

Dozens of placard waving people had gathered to bring attention to the very real need for enhanced safety measures for pedestrians at busy crosswalks on the campus. This particular crosswalk is notorious for close calls, impatient drivers, speed and heavy vehicle/pedestrian congestion.

Over the last couple of years, I have experienced the  congestion and frustration on Westerland first hand. Three times a week, normally during rush hour traffic, I would pick Aidan up from the Aquarena where he was practicing with the St. John's Legends. The confusion, heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic made for lots of frustration. Throw in some rain or a little snow and utter chaos ensued.

I joined the energetic protest for a period of time, spoke to MUN security who were concerned that the protesters might distract drivers from the crosswalk and watched as the media did various interviews. The presence of the media ensured that these concerns woudl make the evening news and the papers. The issue would now be on the radar of City Hall and the University.

In fact, the site was chosen for the protest because a student, Bailey Oake, was struck by a car at this location. She was seriously injured and narrowly missed becoming paralyzed. Is spoke with her for a few minutes as she related her experience and ongoing concerns about the need for better lighting, speed bumps and other safety enhancements.

I wish more people would act with their pens, feet and voices to challenge the status quo.

The power is always in our hands.





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