Columbia in a way, was an experiment.
Well, folks, the experiment has failed. Where James Rouse saw possibilities of a diverse community, the truth is that Columbia is enchained in segregation.
Segregation by age.
If ages were taken along with ballots, and if a requirement of generational diversity were as important as making quorum, we'd be doomed.
This article by Luke Lavoie looks at lack of participation in Village Elections. I care a lot about these elections, and so do many of my friends, but as a whole, most people my age and younger don't know or care about them. While I implore you to get out and vote in your village today, my underlying feeling is that the whole election thing is broken.
I have nothing but admiration for Village Managers and staff who publicize and encourage voting, plan activities, and keep residents informed throughout the year. Despite their best efforts, important decisions about Columbia's present and future are largely being determined by one generation. One angry generation, I might add.
I have heard too many stories of younger residents trying to get involved at the Village level and being scorned, spurned, dismissed, and beaten back by angry "Pioneers". It is no wonder to me that younger residents feel disenfranchised. I have lived here since 1999 and am still treated by some as a newcomer without the right to have a say in my community.
Yes, it is the responsibility of the individual to vote. But how successfully are we educating voters, including younger generations, encouraging participation in leadership roles? What can we do to make the process relevant to today's world? Villages have had success with e-newsletters and social media outreach. What about online voting?
I can tell you right away who wouldn't like that. While Pioneers lament that people just don't seem to care anymore, an increase in voting by other generations would mean one thing--a loss of control. If you look at tactics taken during this election season, it is pretty clear that control is what it is all about.
This is segregation. It is ugly. And unless we stand up to to truth of it, segregation wins and the experiment of Columbia will have failed. Okay, I know I started out saying it already has failed. But I don't want to give up yet.
Vote. And work for change.