Garth’s motivating rule of thumb is, “Always Connect.” He defends the need to live more fully in the life of dialogue. He says that dialogue creates open and inquiring systems that become wiser, in the sense of more aware of otherness and interdependence. Such systems connect people in new and different ways by highlighting common interests. Relations defined by a systemic capacity to assert the mutual values of otherness and interdependence stand some chance of achieving equality in the balance of power.
As a consultant and community networking activist, Garth has extensive Canadian and international experience in enabling communities and governments to apply Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in community development and to plan national strategies for ICT use. He focuses on how community, as a complex adaptive system that informs individual and collective choice, alters the practices of governance. In a career that spans work in Yukon Territory, East Africa, Vietnam and the Philippines, he has been dedicated to ensuring that decision-making about the development choices which communities face occurs at the community level.
He says, “I do care deeply about systems that inform. Creating situations where people can define their own choices about what they want to be or do motivates me.” Via his work with Telecommunities Canada, a national voice for the practices of community networking, and with a variety of other community networking associations and government agencies, he has 27 years experience in the collaborative development of community Internet projects and networks. He has also been active in a variety of Canadian citizens' organizations concerned with the public policy debate on Canada’s transition to a digital economy.
The basis for his practices began in Yukon. He worked for Government of Yukon for 15 years, starting as Director of Library Services and Archives in 1967, and finishing as Deputy Minister of Heritage and Cultural Resources, in 1982. The Heritage and Cultural Resources Department was the first explicit recognition of a cultural development role for government in Yukon. It was intended to use the arts, local history, and access to ideas via libraries, archives and the public record to make it easier for individuals to think about and evolve Yukon’s identity for themselves. As the Government of Yukon transitioned from direction by an appointed Commissioner to a fully elected legislature, he chaired several internal across-government projects that assisted public administration in adapting to the change.
Before leaving Yukon for East Africa in 1983,he was Project Manager for the Chukon Dun Project, providing advice to three Yukon Indian Bands, Dawson City, Mayo, and Pelly Crossing, in land claims negotiations and assessment of the potential impact of a land claims settlement. The Project influenced the decision of the Council for Yukon Indians to continue with claims negotiations rather than settle in the summer of 1983.
The Intentions informing the way Garth does things are described more fully in a short video clip, made by Edon University’s School of Communications’ Imagining the Internet Project, at the world OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy in South Korea, June 2008: http://stream.elon.edu/stream/predictions/oecd_2008/Garth_Graham.mov