Community Action and Twelve Year Olds

I took the kids to their first ever community action meeting.  I cared to go, and since the husband was working, the boys got to see people come together to try to talk about and make a plan for an issue.  Now here is the deal with community action groups.  All the people in attendance are probably passionate about said issue.  But they don’t agree.  At all.  Some are local politicians trying to smoothly explain how they love their peeps, have no money, can’t vote for, but definitely support current issue.  Others are newbies to the community action arena, such as myself, and find the whole process fascinating and mildly amusing.  A few think they are in charge.  May have even called the meeting in the first place; want to be the peacemakers and delegators.  There are, of course, the local listeners scattered about that read about the whole meeting in the local paper two days prior. (These are the ones that pull in the newbies.)  And then there are the vocals.  Vocals have been spending YEARS on such issue, are P.Oed, defensive, sure its a done disaster, want smooth politicians to fix it or stuff it, and yet, despite the certain failure, Can’t. Let. Go.  These are my fascination.  The Vocals.

In this particular situation, said issue is agritourism.  The vocals are the horse peeps.  The politicians are the southern men in suits.  The rest are farmers, townies, landowners, and a few employees with city relations.

Anyway, back to the whole story.  The boys took tablets and books and sat off to the side, while I listened.  From what I gather, back about eight years ago the vocals worked long hours and several seasonal rotations to bring an agricultural tourism center to York County.  According to them, they cooperated with county council, found land, got estimates for a building council wanted, and then got turned down cold at the last minute.  County council refused to pay for it in the end, and those vocals felt deeply cheated, having done all the research and leg work.  Problem was, the center was set to operate at a million dollar loss yearly.  Now, I don’t have to be the financial whiz in town to tell you we are a relatively poor county.  We have some rich segments, but the half of the county I live in is rural.  And rural doesn’t pour money in the pot.

Well, here we are again, eight years later, and my peeps still want that agritourism center.  And frankly, they are right.  It is a great idea.  Agriculture, farming, horses, cattle, pullets, is what we got and what our county is good at.  So why not capitalize on the opportunity to bring in supporters of the local farming movement and provide our regionally renowned horse peeps and 4-H kiddos a place to show off the goods?  A centralized farmer’s market would be fabulous.  I would be so, so happy.  But.  It cannot cost millions to build and millions to run.  It cannot operate at a loss.  It has to be self supporting.  Otherwise, it is just another government project, and county council doesn’t want another project, and Dear Lord we all know government in general doesn’t need more projects.  So this new group called this meeting to discuss revamping a plan.  My local representative made lots of us laugh when he got quoted in the Herald for suggesting the Eagle Scouts build us the first shed.  But in truth, that’s about right.  I finally spoke up suggesting a list of farmers and agricultural products in the county might be a good place to start before we call in the Eagle Scouts and the land surveyors.  Maybe a web page might be cheaper right off the bat.  You know, get somewhat organized before we agree to host an equestrian show.  But again, I am one of the newbies.

Well, all the while this went on, the boys were reading books and playing on tablets.  So afterwards I asked if they’d heard any bit of that meeting.  My twelve year old, he looked up from his book.

This is where it just takes the cake.  The whole picture, from the eyes of a twelve year old.  If only adults were so smart sometimes.

And he said, “I didn’t pay attention the whole time.  But it seemed like these people want this big building on some farmland, and they want to have the council pay for it.  But the council was nice enough to show up and tell them from the start they aren’t going to.  They don’t have the money.  Well, all that did was make the horse people angry, but truthfully, he did them a favor.  If they want the place, they are going to have to figure out how to make it without council’s money.”  I pointed out that to the vocals, it felt like a door slammed in their faces once again, and that politician brought up old resentment.  But again, my boy just replied, “I know.  I feel sorry for those people.  But it isn’t that man’s fault council doesn’t have the money to build their center.  What they really need to do is make some committees, put people from the farms and people from the council together so they can learn to work together, and then figure out what we have already.  I mean, that’s where I’d start.”

I am thinking my twelve year old should take over delegations.

We’ll let you know how this issue progresses, if we hear from anyone again….