Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sixty Minutes

Yesterday morning I met up with some friends at Whole Foods for coffee and conversation. Two men, three women, and two small children. These are people who care about local issues and work to improve their communities. In the course of one hour we discussed adaptive reuse of the Rouse Building, the pedestrian bridge over Little Patuxent Parkway that connects the Mall to the Lakefront, the insufficiency of current minimum wage to support basic subsistence in Columbia, the root causes of the lack of affordable housing in our area, local news, and what happened to Germany during World War II . (Ok, that last bit was one of the kids.)

Yesterday afternoon I attended the Howard County Democratic Club's Labor Day picnic, held at Cedar Lane Park. There were a lot of people there, a hundred or so, all told. These, too, are people who care about local issues and work to improve their communities. The weather was punishingly hot and humid. My sympathies go to the dedicated folks running the grills in that heat.

During the hour that I was there I had a few conversations, nothing intense. Just the normal chit-chat that you would have at a big, family-style cookout. I spent most of my time observing. I watched candidates "work the room", taking time to make contact with supporters. I watched old friends greet eachother. I saw young interns go from table to table, signing up volunteers. Members of the Democratic Central Committee were everywhere, making sure the event ran smoothly.

My take-away from these two events:

  • I am much better in small groups
  • One hour in air conditioning goes by more quickly than one hour in the heat
I noted a possible lesson for future political events. It is apparently not essential to come early. Better by far to come late, be there for the speeches, and still look fresh for the photograph. And yet, for me, a compulsively early type, that may not be the point of being there at all. There's more than one way to participate.

One thing is certain: be it large group or small, once you open yourself up to community involvement, you'll always have plenty to talk about.


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