A Good Citizen

I am trying to be a good citizen.  I have started attending county council meetings, and county council committee meetings.  If you read my last post (Teamwork 101)  you get a sense that for the new comer this can be a mind-boggling experience.  However, because I attended the WIT meeting last week I had an opportunity on Monday to talk “one-on-one” with a committee member about how and what they were attempting to communicate was not what was being heard. Our conversation did help us both realize that the communication gulf was wider than either of us expected.  I can only hope I was helpful in trying to bridge the gap.

Yes, words matter and knowing your audience is crucial to clear communication. Tuesday, I sat in on a meeting of the county’s Natural Resources committee.  The first discussion was about conservation easements. I have a list of questions to ask people who know this stuff so that I can have a better understanding of the issues.

The next presentation was about Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) in the Lake Whatcom watershed.  Quite early in Steve Hood’s presentation he made the comment “ I guess you could say thank goodness we have had a recession, because it has really slowed down development.”

As he went from slide to slide in his power point his words circled in my brain.  Thank goodness there was a recession: my daughter had to move clear across the country to find a job.  Thank goodness there was a recession: we are barely farming at a break even.  Thank goodness there was a recession:  people lost their homes, lost their jobs.  Thank goodness there was a recession:  people on unemployment, people on food stamps,people on disability…..

I attempted to refocus on Mr. Hood’s presentation.  We need to reduce the phosphorus loads from existing development by 87%… (Thank goodness there was a recession)…To reach total maximum daily load goals there should be  no new development in the watershed… (Thank goodness there was a recession) …We will need to tear up perfectly good roads and replace them with different roads… (Thank goodness there was a recession) … not sure how we will get existing homeowners to pay for new roads…
I got up from my chair and left the room with the beat of thank goodness there was a recession drumming in my head.

TMDL’s matter.  They are going to make a tremendous change for all of us.  Read Kris Halterman’s article; “Will Whatcom County Be Bankrupted by TMDL?” for all the details.  For some it is the blessing of no new buildings.  For others it is the emptiness of no new homes, no children, no life.  We are so far apart from being able to communicate I cannot imagine bridging the gap.  I can only weep as I listen to the drumbeat in my heart for all the children who’s lives will be forever affected by the actions of these bureaucrats.

~ Lorraine Newman

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