On the Road: Open Government Part 3

Government needs to be Luke Skywalker
In my last post, I suggested that government should stop acting like Goliath. This post offers how government can become David. To do so, I kindly ask that you please allow my fanboy-ness to paint you a picture: Think about Star Wars and imagine the following characters in this way

Open Government as the Force

…this weird, “energy field created by all living things that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”
Public Servants as Luke Skywalker
…the hero(es) of our story.
Obi Wan & Yoda as Civil Society
…wise old sages who understand and practice The Force.
Han, Chewie, Leia, C3P0, R2-D2 as Engaged Citizens
…our hero’s companions who want him to succeed.
Technology / Open Data as Darth Vader
…the intimidating presence that has the power to control and destroy us.
The Clay Layer as the Emperor
…the villain of our story. The element that must be vanquished.
NOTE:  This analogy has a few holes in it, but you’ll get the jist of what I’m suggesting.
Luke wants to take down the Empire, but can’t because he’s just a farm boy. A tiny little voice in a big giant galaxy.
He’s introduced to the Force (Open Government), a culture that can help him bring an end to the Emperor’s rule of terror (the Evil Clay Layer). In order to learn more about the force he asks questions to and is trained by Obi Wan and Yoda (Civil Society). He is asked to practice those skills and stumbles every so often (the Jedi Training Ball in the Millennium Falcon).

“Not only do they relate to him, but they want him to succeed!”

After much persuading from Obi Wan, Luke takes a leap of faith (turning off his computer in the Death Star trench), let’s go of his doubts, puts his trust firmly into the hands of the Force and triumphs!
We can’t forget that this wasn’t possible without Han, Chewie, Leia, C3P0, and R2-D2 (Engaged Citizens). Friends that support his goal of taking down the Empire (the Evil Clay Layer), yet know very little about the force. Friends that have special skills; Friends that have unique connections; Friends that have been working on taking down the Empire for a long time.
At a later time, we come to learn that in order to take down the Empire, Luke has to turn Vader (Technology / Open Data). In that process Luke finds himself occasionally dejected (can’t raise his X-Wing from the Swamp) and has a number of pitfalls (dropping R2-D2 and Yoda on Dagobah and losing his hand to Vader).
Eventually, Luke (Public Servants) confronts Vader (Technology / Open Data) in the hopes of bringing Vader back towards the Light. In the hopes to make him a friend, instead of a foe. In the hopes that together, they can bring down the reign of the Emperor (the Clay Layer).
It gets a little rough, but it is through those interactions that the audience – or, in this analogy, Un-Engaged Citizens /Media – begin to relate to our hero. Not only do they relate to him, but they want him to succeed! Just about everyone loves an underdog and that’s what I found happening to me on the Open Government Tour.
I had to create a relationship between myself and an audience that didn’t exist (because I DON’T have an audience lol). That’s why I opted to do my video logs and updates relatively unfiltered. I had to put myself out there and share with the world my limitations, my successes, my pitfalls, my values, and my goals.

…In other words, I had to tell a story and not shy away from what I was: A farm boy taking on the Empire.

The Open Government Tour is the story of a Swiss Chalet waiter who is taking on this big massive thing of a creating a collaborative culture between citizens and government…and people can relate to that. They wish they could do it themselves, but for whatever reason they can’t. So, instead they supported the tour in their own way. I had complete strangers offering me their couches where I could sleep. Organizations like Gov Campus who were kind enough to teach me how to speak to an audience and offer their listeners to bring my story to a larger audience. Technologists were offering their skills. And public servants came out of their shadows wanting to be part of this conversation.

…all of this, just to help a simple waiter ;-). And THAT’S how you become Luke Skywalker.

Richard PietroRichard Pietro considers himself as an Open Government Fanboy in an attempt to create Civic Engagement as Art. Richard’s Twitter handle is @richardpietro and you can learn more about his work at MyEinsteinJob.blogspot.ca.

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