5.05.2006

Shout Out to the Founding Fathers

Although I've always admired political activism I've shied away from our local fray because, to my great consternation, we live in a hot bed of radical Republicanism. El Paso county has more than double the number of registered Republicans than Dems and is home to Focus on the Family, Betty Beedy and the Ronald Reagan Highway. I'm not talking madcap fiscal conservatives. We got us the Religious Right(!) - those zany purveyors of moral superiority. Engaging with these folks holds the same allure as say, hunting with Dick Cheney and so I lay low.

However, in attempting to put together a small development project in town, Geoff and I find ourselves navigating layers of beaur
ocracy a la the Planning Commission and the Trails and Open Space Board and the Town Council. We decided that our only tactical advantage comes from tapping into the grassroots activism that Manitou is known for and so, with our partners, we hosted a community meeting last night.

Due to inclement weather our on-site barbecue moved into our dining room while the father of one of our partners grilled up hamburgers and dogs on our deck and another partner, Robin, walked the room offering platters of food. It was exactly how I'd imagined such a meeting. People actually came and they poured over our diagrams and renderings; they ate and they opined and they caught up with their neighbors. One gentleman was so enthusiastic at the prospect of a free burger that he had nearly drenched his patty with the Mamacita's green beans and rice before I could point out that it was alas, not Grey Poupon. I can understand his confusion.

All in all the majority of attendees threw their support behind our project. But I was just as happy to see the dissenters because at least they took the time to come out and share their thoughts. There were no histironics, just civil, thoughtful discussion and I couldn't shed the utopian sense that this, this is how things ought to work. If we could routinely tackle community issues from the ground up, with a sense of civic duty, eventually we could tackle state, national and even global issues in this same way. It's an overly simplistic and naive view, I know. But it was nice while it lasted.

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