Thursday, April 15, 2010

Town Meeting

For the past four years, Edmund and I have moved every year. Just when we began to settle in somewhere, we would move again. Believing as I do in the power of local government and wanting to be involved in creating and maintaining a sense of community, I have wanted to participate in local politics. However, it never seemed to make sense to get involved because we always had this plan to buy a farm - somewhere else.

Well, here we are.

And last night we attended our first Plainfield town meeting. We were approached a few days before by Vern, a fellow Plainfield tax payer, who wanted our signatures in an effort to halt the land revaluation that is being done in Plainfield 2010-2011. I will not bore you with the litigious details of state taxes, school taxes, agriculture subsidies, and something called a "star rebate", and how they all intertwine to create a crushing choke-hold on working families. Everyone in the room last night could agree that school taxes in Plainfield are WAY too high, but there was confusion about just what to do about it. Many people showed up to protest the land revaluation, dumbfounded that their "dungheap" (her words, not mine) could have appreciated 150% in the last few years.

I have been thinking a lot today about the meeting last night. There were an array of emotions, personalities, information and misinformation. Not having my camera with me to capture the event, I drew a small cartoon of the town meeting, with the four of us pictured in the back row.

Despite it all, I actually feel inspired. I still believe that getting involved with the issues of one's community is important and necessary to create the kind of world I want to belong to. It feels good to have a town, a place, a farm to become involved with. The town meeting has made me think about the larger political and economic context within which our little farm sits. The issues of our world, as impossibly large and unwieldy as they seem (Anyone out there listen to Democracy Now! on a regular basis?!) must be addressed somehow. What better place to begin then in one's own backyard?

That is exactly what I intend to do.



  1. I also was pleased that even the most upset and angry of the other taxpayers were willing to give the "opposition" a chance to speak. I feared that it would devolve into a shouting match, and there were times when emotion climbed, but never to a fever pitch. We didn't stay for the whole thing though, so it may have escalated without my knowledge.

  2. Pretty interesting...what's more interesting than humans in groups? Humans in groups discussing how to control/take from other humans in groups. Excellent.

    Your description makes me think how valuable you can make yourself to a community by being principled. This was your first showing and perhaps you didn't speak much, but if you make a point of only speaking the truth, and being hesitant to speak on matters you don't yet fully understand, then people will quickly learn to rely on you for that quality, regardless of any political opinions which follow.

  3. Normandy, good for you for getting involved. You sound like you are well-steeped in the Transition Towns movement! In case you don't know what I mean:

    "The Transition Movement is a vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. It represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people in strengthening their communities against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, equitable and socially connected."

    If you want to know more about it, go to