Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Mother Nature Taking Over

We've both heard it said, 'Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you'll feed him for a lifetime.' I've asked Jerry about that and his first concern is what weight line might the man be using. Now, thanks to Terry Pratchett, who cares? As Terry says, "Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life." Talk about putting everything into perspective.

Definitely one of those 'your worst day alive is still ten times better than your best day dead' Hallmark cards, though I'm not sure how big a seller that card might be, or where in the little rows of cards you place a humorous, albeit somewhat dark, card on how life goes on. Come to think of it, I'm not sure they have a "Life, Suck it Up!" section at all. I know American Greetings doesn't, at least not the store in the mall near the town not named for the crystal, but rather, the speedbowl. And those guys don't have much patience with people asking questions, either, but that's a tale too ticklish to tell right now and best for another time when neither of us is here. Me first.

Oh. Thought you had left, sorry. Since you're still here, in terms of who may be elected President how do you feel in the wake of Super Tuesday, or, as Dylan once offered, 'nothing is revealed'. Strange how I never noticed the resemblance to Rob Halford before, and now I can almost notice nothing else. Rob does look a little like Bret from "Cribs" at least at the bandana, or when he's 'breakin' the law.' I've sometimes day-dreamed if I were a haberdasher and sold products like watch caps and bandanas of naming my shop, 'Yes, We Have Some Bandanas!" I just googled that phrase and so far, it's all mine! I feel like Alexander the Great with no worlds left to conquer. When did 'google' move from a silly, but memorable (noun) name for a search engine to a verb? We no longer look anything up, we google it. Decades ago we did the same thing to the word "party". It went from being the object in a sentence like, 'Are you going to that party?' to a verb as in "I wanna party with you, cowboy!" Or maybe not exactly that sentence. Your mileage may vary.

Speaking of variation, or business as unusual, here in Norwich last night I had a chance to watch some amazing interaction between the citizenry and the elected leadership as the City Council (minus an under-the-weather Mayor) had a residents’ forum in the Greeneville School. You can read about that in the local newspapers, assuming they ever actually post their reporters’ stories, here, or here, or even right here:

I saw no one in the Greeneville School gym last night whom I have ever seen at a 'regular' City Council meeting (I go to a lot of council meetings; my life is very empty and they help fill it up). For many people in the room (and I counted 48 adults and children before leaving after about forty minutes), not attending council meetings is no big thing—the City Council isn’t magical or mythical or mystical---the residents just don’t see it as especially relevant to their lives, unless or until, as happened last night… have:
A lady who kept apologizing for her ‘big mouth’, angry about the damage to her car from the never-ending destruction, masquerading as construction, of the roads in her neighborhood; about the vandalism at the play scapes at the schools and how it never stops and the miscreants are never caught; at the ladies of the lamp and their patrons as well as other colorful characters who hold her, and a neighbor across the gym, hostage in their own homes, so to speak, after 7 at night; about how the firm contracted to empty residential trash doesn’t and how little seems to be able to be done about it and, finally, how no one she calls at City Hall can help her.

And so it went—once the conversation got started and the introductions were made, people talked to one another and not at each other. Notes were made, assurances were extended and I came away with a sense that something good was starting and growing. That part of ‘the change’ we opted for in our November City Council elections was now more manifest. (And Alderman Chris Coutu, if they ever give the vote to eleven year-olds, because you were their advocate in making sure the youngsters could have some hot pizza while their elders talked cold, hard facts, you'd be elected in a landslide. All we are saying is Give Pizza a Chance!)

Yes, deciding to pay for a demolition of property to assist a developer was an important topic at Monday’s City Council meeting. So was deciding to (not) hire a lobbyist (I enjoyed the former alderperson who spoke during the public hearing telling us, in opposing a lobbyist, that she ‘has faith in our (Hartford) legislators’. Except a year ago, sitting on the City Council, she was of little faith as she never batted an eye in voting to hire a lobbyist. The same legislators were in Hartford then as are there now. Whether they should continue may be a matter of discussion down the road).
But the discussion in Greeneville is where the road and the sky collide. Moral leadership and setting an ethical tone are important and worthwhile "Government" concerns, but so is getting the street repaved and the trash cans emptied.
Life isn’t all CAPITAL LETTERS, there’s a lot of lower case and punctuation.
Sometimes it’s as important to be an explanation as it is to be an exclamation.
-bill kenny

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