Monday, March 1, 2010

And After it Rains, There's a Rainbow

Today marks the start of the third month of what once was a New Year-so much for that oft-advertised petty pace about which we've heard so much and done so little to overcome. At least March, as an acquaintance suggested the other day, is a 'full-sized month', which, with a brother born in February I thought of as a wry, though also unkind, observation.

In Norwich, it's a full week of organized meetings and some less formal arrangements as well (I'm thinking about a Wednesday morning soiree that seems to set direction for a more publicized later in the week meeting, but that may be just me), as Rose City Residents, long time and more recent arrivals, practice working together on a variety of advisories, boards, commissions and committees to make enough small differences that, together, make a big difference for each of us who lives here.

Having said that, there's an early morning (= 8:30) meeting of the Executive Committee of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments in their building up in the Norwich Business Park. Closer to home, as in at City Hall tonight at 7:30, it's a regular meeting of the City Council with a relatively light agenda, though I'm looking forward to the progress report by the 21 West Thames Street Advisory Committee.

Tuesday evening at six, though they're not listed on the city's municipal website (I really like the new logo but I don't quite understand the sizing on the home page), are special meetings of the Norwich Public Utilities Commissioners and the Sewer Authority in the training room, of the NPU building at 16 South Golden Street.

Wednesday afternoon at five-thirty in the Central Office of the Norwich Public Schools, across from the Norwichtown Green is a regular meeting of the (Kelly Middle) School Building Committee. When you review their February minutes it's heartening to read that the weather we've had for most of this winter hasn't adversely impacted the progress of the construction which is still forecast to be completed by February 2012.

Something disquiets me as Norwich is struggling to craft a fiscally responsible municipal budget (not that we're alone in that struggle) for 2010/2011 (unlike a certain Nutmeg state that shall remain anonymous). In light of evaporating revenue streams and escalating operating costs which demand sacrificing more substance than perhaps any of us can afford, how do we hope to support the new capabilities the middle school expansion project will provide our children when we're already eliminating all world languages and other curriculum that would seem to be essential in the 21st Century? We're not talking nice-to-have, but, rather, need-to-do.

Thursday night, at seven in the Planning Department conference room (in the basement of 23 Union Street) is a regular meeting of the Inland Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission.

And at seven-thirty, maybe, in LaStella's, perhaps, might be a regular meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, whose members' appointments expired in January. Their February minutes, required by Public Law 08-3 to be posted within seven days to the city's website are NOT on line (the most recent, and that's a stretch, are from June 20th of last year), though the January agenda is on the website. It's hard to help push the car out of the ditch when you don't where the car or the ditch is. I applaud the idea of a Chelsea Arts District website-perhaps a link to it, right here, on the city's website is helpful?

Saturday has me a little confused. According to the municipal website, the workshop with Almost All of the City Council (AAotCC) on community and economic development is cancelled though that's not what I understood last Saturday while in attendance at that workshop.

However, the initial convening of the Charter Review Subcommittee will be in the Central Fire House training room from noon through 2 PM. Here's the 'know before you go' item, the charter itself, for your review and consideration so when you attend the hearing on Saturday to offer ideas and comments, you and the sub-committee have a shared frame of reference. The fuzzy feel good generalities I remember from the fall election about alleged shortcomings in our charter will never get addressed, much less repaired, if we aren't specific and honest with one another. Saturday is a good time to start and once we do I hope we realize making things better is a hard habit to get into and even harder one to break.

We can only elect so many people to the City Council or the Board of Education and maybe you lack the time to be on a formal committee or advisory but each of us can be a JetMec, Kathleen, Sofee, Keith, Andy, Joanne, Marterese, Michael, Bonnie, Dr. Robert,Teacher Charles, Dennis, Chris, Karen and so many others across this city. We don't need fair-weather friends, we need everyday people doing extraordinary things to make a difference for one another and for all of us.

"And after it rains, there's a rainbow. And all of the colors are black.
It's not that the colors aren't there. It's just imagination they lack.
Everything's the same, back in my little town."
-bill kenny

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