Taiwan Insight: A Strong Democracy Is a Democracy Rooted In Communities

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Over the years, g0v contributors have “opened up” Taiwan’s antiquated government bureaucracy. They join their frustration to tear things down, optimism to make things together, and openness to share things to make themselves both protesters and collaborators. As protesters, these hackers made governments listen by demonstrating what is possible. Their demonstrations led to the creation of data.gov.tw, join.gov.tw, vtaiwan.tw, and most recently the governmental political contribution open data portal. As collaborators, some served on various national and local government bureaus or policy committees. Some worked tirelessly to build trust with public servants, introduced tech tools into existing organizations, facilitated public policy communications, or hosted open data hackathons. When protesters and collaborators work together, they change things. Perhaps most importantly, they have planted the idea of change.

Transitional justice is perhaps one of the most divisive topics in Taiwan. Watchout have hosted workshops in cities across Taiwan with the Ministry of Culture to “envision the transition of the Chang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.” Both proud supporters of Taiwan’s authoritarian past and activists for Taiwanese independence, along with urban planning experts, historians, neighborhood officers, and students were all able to sit at the same table and listen to each other. Last month, Watchout hosted a hackathon with Transitional Justice Commission. 40 people came together to generate new ideas for middle school teachers teaching transitional justice in their classrooms. Six open-source teaching plans were developed.

Fake News Cleaner,” “Lily Action,” and “Thousand-Layer Pie Dialogue.” These are networks of (mostly young) volunteer groups across Taiwan. They hosts workshops in neighborhood centers to share skills of fact-checking; they set up vendors near hiking trail entrances to share health information with the hikers; they wander around parks and traditional markets with information cards in their hands, looking for people to engage with. “Family Talk Clinic” and “Have You Talked To Your Senior Relatives Today?” are online groups for (mostly young) people exchanging experiences and forming tactics to communicate with senior members of their family and people outside their “Stratosphere.”

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A Strong Democracy Is a Democracy Rooted In Communities

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