A handbook of democratic solutions in troubled times, from the activist the media call a "wizard," a "mastermind," "the ultimate ideas guy," a "mad scientist," a "start-up genius."
Our democracy is a trainwreck. Our elections feel hollow and our legislatures have become toxic. Fierce partisanship, centralized power, distorted election results and rigged systems all contribute to our growing cynicism.
Voters are increasingly turning towards the angriest candidates, or simply tuning out completely and staying at home. But as Dave Meslin's career has shown, we can fix things. We can turn elite power structures upside down. We can give a voice to ordinary people. But it means fixing things from the bottom up, and starting locally. It's hard to change the world if you can't change a municipal by-law. Teardown shows readers how to do both. And it will show us that these two challenges are not fundamentally different.
From environmental activism to public space advocacy to the ongoing campaign for electoral reform, Dave Meslin has been both out on the street in marches and in the back rooms drawing up policy. With Teardown he reminds us that the future of our species doesn't need to look like a trainwreck. That we're capable of so much more.
It's time to raise our expectations: of the system, of each other and of ourselves. Only then can we re-imagine a new democracy, unrecognizable from today's political mess. This book is a recipe for change. A cure for cynicism. A war on apathy.
DAVE MESLIN is an activist, artist, and community organizer who inspires better engagement between governments and citizens. He formed the Toronto Public Space Committee that in 2005 was chosen as the "Best Activist Group" by both EYE Weekly and NOW magazines. TPSC published the first issue of Spacing Magazine, an award-winning urban affairs publication. Meslin appears as an expert on political engagement on national media. His TED talk about apathy has more than 1.5 million views and his 90-second video clip from the 2016 federal election coverage, using colourful stacks of Lego bricks to explain how our voting system fails us, has over 2.5 million views on Facebook alone.
Praise for Teardown:
“Dave Meslin is a force of nature — a one-man think tank/pressure group who won’t stop until he sees his ideas for a better democracy put into action.”
“It’s funny and engaging, and his examples and recommendations are very specific and common-sense” —The Toronto Star
“You must listen to Dave Meslin. Agree or disagree with his prescriptions, he is the clearest voice in our country talking about how to fix our democracy and improve our lives as citizens.”
—Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary
“Dave Meslin has written the (long-overdue) Owners and Operators Guide to a Healthy Democracy. Brimming with creative strategies, it is a down to earth, do-able manual to get ourselves out of the toxic, non-user-friendly morass we call Canadian politics.”
—Elizabeth May, leader, Green Party of Canada
“An easy-to-read, humorous, honest and blunt assessment of Canadian democracy from Dave Meslin – someone who has experienced first-hand how politics works."
—Michael Chong, Conservative MP and author of the Reform Act