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10.27.2011

Taking on leadership roles in town

I had lunch yesterday with a friend I don't see enough of lately and she asked me to join a committee and help sort out some problems with the school. Like many parents, she is involved with several school committees but has been frustrated by how hard it is to accomplish real positive change in our district.

This is nothing new around here. Since I first came to town 2 decades ago I've heard nothing but frustration about the local school system from the low standard of education being taught, the high dropout rates, to difficulties parents have dealing with making significant change. Meanwhile, already high costs go up, administration gets larger and the kids are still facing the same problems. Getting involved is a real tar baby because the harder you push for change the more resistant the status quo becomes and I'm the kind of person who takes on a challenge with the object of acheiving a goal, not just moving the chairs around the committee room and calling it a job well done. I'm not afraid to push my way up the food chain and ruffle some feathers. Knowing how time and energy sapping all that can be makes me somewhat reluctant to say yes.

On the other hand, I first got to know this friend some 13 years ago by calling her up cold and asking her get involved in a heated campaign I was leading to keep an international waste corporation from turning our town into a regional waste destination. Talk about a tar baby. Well, not only did she get involved (and it was her first foray into community activism), but she brought other people along, fought hard for 2 years until we took our fight, our voices and our perserverance all the way to the governor's office and made the powerful corporation with the pots of money go away. It was very empowering and made us understand that dedicated people really can make a difference.

She is a strong and capable business owner in town and since our clash with the trash titans she has led many other projects from economic development to historic reconstruction that have made a huge impact on our town. So, busy as I am, there's no way I'll say no to her. Besides, we haven't had a chance to work together since we told Waste Management Inc. where to put its trash. We could be a formidable team and do our school and kids some good into the bargain.