Folk on the Rocks!


This past weekend IserveU made its first public appearance at Yellowknife’s biggest annual event - Folk on the Rocks! It was awesome to talk with Yellowknifers for the first time about improving public engagement, accountability, and transparency in their local government.

At our tent we had a couple of activities set up. One allowed people to make their own personalized IserveU buttons and another was a demonstration to give some insight into how the online voting and discussion platform will work. People could cast their vote for or against the policy and see how that decision affected the final outcome. When people didn’t know much about the issue (or didn’t care) they gave their vote to a random “councillor” by spinning a spinner which decided their vote for them. It was a low tech but fun way of showing how IserveU harnesses the best parts of both direct and representative democracies.

We had a fantastic time. So here are some of the highlights from the festival (both significant and less so) according to our volunteers:

  • Over the two days were were at the festival we signed up more than 120 new Yellowknifers to the IserveU site, including former city councilors from Hay River and Yellowknife who really liked the idea.

  • The reaction of non-Yellowknifers was super encouraging. In the discussions we had with people from all around Canada, they often expressed the wish that something similar was happening in their own cities. (Which is why we’re making our code open source, so others can build off of what we’ve started).

  • The two incredibly loud waterbombers that flew over the beer garden, scaring the bejesus out of almost everyone nearby, including us in the IserveU tent. It was pretty awe-inspiring.

  • One Torontonian was especially enthusiastic about IserveU. After having the initiative explained to him he kept leaving and then returning with more people. Each time he’d come back he’d say, “tell them what you told me.”

  • The event was the first for new volunteer-coordinator Carly Bradley, who did a fantastic job keeping everyone organized and on task.

  • One guy teaching in Nunavut for the summer was an especially big fan … of our water. The water, flavoured with cucumber, lemon and mint, was available to anyone and everyone who came by. But this guy made a point of telling us that this was the best water he’d ever tasted. Democracy tastes good, we told him. Real good.


IserveU will be at the Old Town Ramble & Ride this weekend. If you missed us at Folk on the Rocks, be sure to check us out there!


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