On Thursday morning I got up early, got dressed "like a grown-up" and drove down the hill to the interstate and then on up to Montpelier.Commongood Vermont held a special all-day workshop in honor of Vermont Nonprofit Legislative Day, and it provided me with an opportunity to get some exposure to life in the public sector.
Vermont has a true "citizens legislature", filled with folks who are accessible to their constituents in a special way, due to the state's small size. We know our reps on a first name basis. One of them came to visit us three times when he was running for office. He wrote us a thank you note for chatting and mentioned the issues we spoke about in his follow up. Did I mention he was 21 at the time? He has taken a leave of absence from college to serve out his term.
Networking skills, grassroots organizing and collaboration were big topics in the workshop. We listened to panel discussions on all sorts of issues, including gun legislation, health care, and the budget. The Lieutenant Governor spoke with our group, as did the Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives. After the workshops, I sat in the House chamber and listened to debate over the budget.
I have a renewed respect for the democratic process, and I feel lucky to live in a small state where governance seems fairly transparent and collegial. I felt a glimmer of hope. But, whew, the day exhausted me!
And on Saturday afternoon I watched a bit of TV coverage of the marches around the country. Did you?
And the way they are so inclusive...
Race, ethnicity, gender, political party, socio-economic situation, education...
They don't care about all that.
They care about safety.
(and how about Emma Gonzalez?
I hope she runs for office.
That woman is amazing.
A group of our local high school students boarded Amtrak's Vermonter on Friday and went down to DC to join the march. They will be making a documentary as part of their experience, and sharing it with our community. Hear an interview on VPR about these kids here.
Last night I bundled up and took a chair out onto the deck and watched the sun set with a new kind of hope in my heart.
Do you feel it too?
At long last...
leadership with integrity.