This piece is a reflection by Iain Walker, Executive Director of Australia’s newDemocracy Foundation and a guest at a recent PACE member gathering.
The message I share is well-worn and I can roll into reformist evangelism when first woken if need be. I’ve delivered it to senators and skeptical TV audiences with a smile. Yet somehow, when I was invited to speak at a member meeting for PACE — Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement — I boarded the plane with nerves I hadn’t known in years. The reason for this is summed up in two words that surfaced on multiple occasions throughout the convening, a gathering of funders committed to civic engagement across America: “the moment.” And I was every inch aware of it, the same way you are.
No one wants to overplay this — everyone must get tired of hyperbole and breathless positions being taken. However, there is something palpably real about this. The pressure on me comes with thinking I have the answer that is right for this moment, and it would be a failure which would haunt me if I failed to convey this to a group with so much capability to embed practical, structural changes in our democracies.