My flat in Bow overlooks the Olympic Park. I can see the Olympic Stadium and Westfield Shopping centre from my kitchen window. Thinking about the Olympic legacy for Londoners is a daily agitation for me, not least because I know my premium on rent. I calculated it takes me seven minutes door to door in the car to be at the shopping centre. Pretty impressive. I also realised it takes about seven minutes to vote in the London Mayoral Election and decide on the future governance of this great City. When I say this to people whilst I'm out door knocking to get them to stand up and take charge of the election and vote; it's hard for them to be impressed.
My agenda for a better London includes;
1. Good Governance - making sure we have accountable politicians
2. Affordable Housing - through community land trusts and affordable rent figures
3. Investment into young people - with job opportunities and work experience
4. Safer Streets -communities in relationship with each other
5. Living Wages paid to London's poorest working families
Some people may put it down to naivety that I think my vote can make a difference. Whilst I'm out with a group of church leaders knocking doors on the local estates in Stepney I get "do you really think the Mayor of London cares about us?", "I don't trust the lot of them?", "why should I care?". It takes some time to convince people that the difference for us is that we have a relationship with the candidates and can hold them to account.
I can understand their apathetic sentiments but I can't always convey the gravity of the situation. The reality is that this will be a close election and every vote counts.
The Mayor of London has some serious money and some serious power.
Most of the key decisions that affect our daily lives as Londoners will be up to them and their team. So many families in London Citizens, care about affordable housing. In this policy area alone we are seeing a historic shift. With the Olympic park land previously under the control of the Olympic Legacy Company, the 5 different housing bodies that are responsible for the land will be merged into one - the Mayoral Development Corporation. The next Mayor of London will have overall control of this body and will be sitting on multi billion pound assets with final decisions over land and the future of housing policy for London.
Any talk of affordable housing is hopeless if we are not able to hold them to account.
Working at London Citizenshttp://www.citizensuk.org- the largest and most diverse alliance of 240 different education, faith and civic groups in the Capital - we know how much this election means for ordinary families and why as civil society we need to be organised.
Every four years at London Citizens we run a Mayoral Election Assembly where we invite the main candidates to attend an organised assembly of 2,500 of our members in Westminster. It's different to a hustings - there are no questions from the floor, the agenda is democratically decided over a year of listening to thousands of families. The issues are delivered from a platform of diverse leaders who co-chair the evening. The people in the room are engaged, disciplined and organised members of our alliance who are eager to hear what the candidates have to say on the issues they care about and have worked with others to make change on.
London Citizens' issues are My issues.
They are the same issues we took to the streets to talk to other Londoners about and had tens of thousands of conversations with. In the process we signed up thousands of people who can't be with us on the evening but will be watching the event live streamed. You can join us at www.citizensuk.org and join the debate on twitter at @CitizensUK and #whatlondonerswant.
These face to face conversations and one to one meetings, the building of relationships and negotiating with power are how we do politics in community organising.
On Wednesday 25th April in Methodist Central Hall we have 2,500 people gathered from over 230 schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, charities, universities and residents groups. We have the 4 main candidates standing for election and we have our 5 point agenda.
This is true democracy in action.
Not only will this be the largest public assembly and gathering of their election campaigns. There will be lots of elephants in the room - our people have a long memory. We remember commitments made at earlier assemblies in 2000, 2004 and 2008 and will hold the current Mayor, Boris Johnson to account over his Mayoralty for the past four years. It is through this memory and relationship we are able to get things done over the past 15 years. As a permanent alliance, even if politicians come and go, our institutions rooted in the community stick around.
On Wednesday night we will hear stories, hopes and fears of ordinary Londoners. These are the stories that make up the Citizens Agenda. We expect the Assembly will be the most important night of the campaign. Not just because the candidates are moved by testimony but because, through community organising, they are moved to act.
You will be able to watch the Assembly live online at www.citizensuk.org and join the debate on twitter at @CitizensUK and #whatlondonerswant.
We committed to let the thousands of voters we have signed up to support our agenda know how the candidates respond. If you want to know then you can sign up at http://newcitizens.nationbuilder.com/support
When you experience the kind of public commitments an organised alliance can get from politicians in these 7 minutes. It will be hard not to be impressed.