Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm a Citizen Journalist? And Other Peculiar New England Conventions

Whoa, Town Meeting does the weirdest things, like inspiring me to write a journalistic blog (of course, readers must click the link to read more on that).

Seriously, though, they're a good time - especially for people who have a sophomoric, political sense of humor (although, avoiding fits of laughter when speakers make silly straw-man points is a must - like when one speaker compared Jamaica Plain to Swampscott last night, as if they were the same). Also, it helps to try to be interested and to think of it like a giant game of clue - figuring out what frack is actually going on behind the scenes and what all those amendments are really about (it helps to have a partner to gossip with bounce ideas off of).

In the meantime, Town Meeting members can actually do some good - like being part of the budget process, creating important bylaws, or voting to move forward an override to build a new school. Town Meeting is a peculiar New England trait, so hopefully readers are taking part in their community as I am in mine. It makes a difference.


laurel said...

no town meetings in my state, but i did just get elected to my condo board. a much smaller population, but still plenty of politics and genuine do goodery. it is an interesting exercise for me, because i share actual walls with my neighbors. the skill of negotiation is paramount.

Quriltai said...


I've long found town meeting to be one of the dullest things on Earth. Endless self-important debates about zoning, while multi-milliondollar budgets slide by with nary a look (except to vote in favor of any proposed cuts). Old townies grumbling at each other, consistently overwhelmed and ignorant moderators...bleah.

I go, I participate, it is vital, it is democracy in its ugly simplicity, but oy is it painful.

Peter Porcupine said...

I went to mine last night, too, Ryan. FinCom was mad at selectmen for signing a contract without knowing end cost, HUGE fight on stage.

Most intersting artible - a 'Right to Farm' zoning change, to protect agricultural use.

Happiest - 3 pieces of land taken for tax foreclosure were donated to Habitat for affordable housing (my beloved spoke as a Habitat worker - first time EVER speaking!)

About Ryan's Take