DemocracySTORM: Let's Budge the Budget, Rossland!

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
December 6th, 2012

A community-wide budget brainstorm the likes of which the world has never seen is about to sweep this little mountain town—and we want YOU to join us for the ride.

We have three simple questions and all we need is a couple minutes of your time to jot down your thoughts. You know the thoughts, the ones that always get your finger wagglin’: “What the city ought to do…”

Put your thinking cap on:

  1. What should the City of Rossland spend MORE money on?
  2. What should the City of Rossland spend LESS money on?
  3. What other key points should council consider before passing the budget?

Before we show you how to participate, some background: we recently reviewed the THOUGHTstream software invented by Rosslander Jim Firstbrook and suggested that City Hall get a license to poll the town for input on the budget.

Coun. Spearn supported the idea, but let’s face it: we can either wait for democracy to happen, or we can make it happen ourselves, here and now. So we drank our own Kool-aid and said, “Heck, let’s do this.” Out of a deep love for this town and its people, THOUGHTstream provided us with their software and hosting package for free, and here we are.


If you subscribe to the Rossland Telegraph’s weekly newsletter, check your email: everything you need to participate in “DemocracySTORM: Let’s Budge the Budget!” is probably waiting in your inbox.

If you don’t subscribe, consider doing it now and we’ll send you the email invitation.

If you want to brainstorm the budget but would rather not subscribe to the Telegraph, then click this link and add your email directly. (You’ll be asked for your name, but don’t fret, your responses will remain anonymous—and you can use a pen name if you’d prefer!)

Once you get your DemocracySTORM email invitation, follow a link to answer the questions…and that’s it, you’re done. There’s no username, no password, and no personal data to enter. We’re just after your ideas, plain and simple.

The link in the email will be active until the deadline on Dec. 21, so if you stumble on a golden goose in the meantime, jump back into the email, follow the link again, and your old ideas will be waiting for your new idea to join them.

Here’s a Youtube tutorial that’ll show you the ropes, but the ropes are so easy I can guarantee you don’t need it.

To feed your juices, however, you may want to peruse our “Bare Bones” version of Rossland’s budget in this week’s issue.


The brainstorm will dump deep democratic pow on Rossland’s furrowed brows until Dec. 21, and then the hush of the holiday season will settle in.

But it will only be an illusion of calm. The eye of the DemocracySTORM will pass and in the new year, government of the people, by the people, and for the people will rumble through again.

By January, 2013, we’ll have summarized all the great ideas from across this great town into one great list. It will be time for you to spend a couple minutes choosing the handful of ideas from the list that really speak to you and your priorities for Rossland.

Be amazed!

Once the results are in, we’ll finally see if a person talking about the budget in Rossland can affect the course of a tornado in Kansas. (We’re pretty sure it can.) Moreover, there’s enough spare wind in Rosslanders’ lungs to get a twister going here at home.

Don’t believe there’s hot air to spare? Take a gander at some recent Telegraph polls, like this one.


We coined the name both to capture the process—a democratic, community-wide brainstorm session—and also to match the feel of “THOUGHTstream,” the software that makes it all possible.

Former Rossland CAO Andre Carrel just wrote an interesting article, below which he commented: “Democracy is not a right.”

“Democracy is more about responsibilities than about rights,” he emphasized. “Public participation is fundamental to good local government. That is the essence of democracy. Democracy is not about elections, it is about citizens participating in their own governance. A society cannot consider itself to be governed democratically if citizens do not participate.”

THOUGHTstream is a new tool with a lot of promise. It’s not a survey or poll where the pollster predetermines the questions. It’s a bottom-up brainstorm that self-organizes into collective priorities.

To our knowledge, however, no one has ever tried the DemocracySTORM twist, using it as a tool to give local governments a map of public sentiment and community wisdom on political decisions.

So join us in making history!

Maybe you don’t have time to picket outside City Hall, but perhaps you do have time to write out a couple ways the city should save or spend its money—our money—and see what peels off the cutting edge of democracy.

To add your two cents to “DemocracySTORM: Let’s Budge the Budget!” we need to send you an email that’s made especially for you. Either subscribe to the Telegraph’s weekly newsletter on our home page, or follow this link to add your email directly to the DemocracySTORM.

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