One of the great things about living in Montpelier, Vermont, is the accessibility of local and state government. It is completely within my ability to walk into a budget meeting or bill hearing at the statehouse and make my voice heard. I know my city council members and they know me. There are countless organizations and agencies with structures that are flat enough for me or anyone else with the inclination to do so to take part and be impactful. In other words, life here is a joiner’s and busy-body’s dream. It is no wonder that pretty much everyone you talk to contributes directly to the local community through civic involvement and activism of some kind or another – lobbying for bicycle and pedestrian priorities, starting a youth chapter of the green mountain club and a girls outdoor education program, “reading to end racism,” labor organizing, lobbying for affordable housing, preserving regional folk art, seeking state mandated health care coverage for midwives and doulas, organizing neighborhood associations, supporting legislation in favor of local farmers, etc. I could go on all day.
A wise friend of mine once told me that the best and the worst are always the same thing – that the reason you love something is also the reason you sometimes hate it. In the case of this community, that is true. I have an active imagination and high expectations so, naturally, everywhere I turn I can see room for improvement. If I gave myself free reign to do so, I could scheme all day about how to best develop an active network of neighborhood associations in the city, how to increase the salience and impact of social justice work at the Unitarian Church and, most poignantly at the present time, how to develop and fund comprehensive language education producing tri-lingual high school graduates for our public schools here in town. The thing is, in this community those would not be idle fancies, they would instead be plans that could be brought to fruition with a little tweaking, pounding the pavement for allies, and a lot of elbow grease.
The problem is that “all-around busy-body” is an unfunded position, and certainly not tenure track.