“I’ve been reading the paper lately,” said Kevin Samek to the Solon City Council on Aug. 6 during the citizens speak agenda item. “I’m a little concerned about the north sewer trunk.”
Samek had been reading my newspaper articles about the council and this long-standing community issue.
He went on to express his concerns about the way council was handling finances regarding the sewer line, and on a second topic said that public safety could be improved on Main Street by lowering the speed limit. He was respectful and brief.
Council addressed his concerns by lowering the speed limit from 25 to 20 miles per hour, and by unsuccessfully attempting to reach agreement with a developer over the sewer line at their Aug. 20 meeting. Samek filed to run for city council shortly afterward.
Two things about this story explain why some of us write in public.
Samek read my newspaper articles, and then did something about it, first by speaking to council, and then by deciding to run for public office. Informing and activating people to take action is what public writing is about. Whether we write for a newspaper, a blog, in social media, or appear on television or radio, the purpose is similar. We attempt to say something meaningful to readers and urge them to action.
The second important part of this story is that someone was there to witness the work of the city council and report on it. Often I am the only person seated in the gallery at council meetings and if I don’t write about them, it is doubtful anyone outside government would. Being there and having a point of view is important to restoring our Democracy. Writing publicly about what we witness is equally so. This is true not only for our government, but for much else in society.
As my summer job with Blog for Iowa ends, I urge readers to get involved with community life and take progressive action. We each have a unique perspective that is needed. There is a world out there and not enough people witnessing its reality and sharing it in public. Or, as Saul Bellow said more artfully, “there’s the most extraordinary, unheard-of poetry buried in America, but none of the conventional means known to culture can even begin to extract it.”
My hope is that people read what I wrote this summer and were moved to do something about issues that are important to them. As the political season turns to the fall campaign thanks for reading my summer posts. My advice is to never give up.