Saturday, July 2, 2011

to Civic Engagement

(Squirrel in repose, Dolores Park)

I'm getting older. I don't say that because almost two weeks after Pride i'm still shuffling around my house like a member of AARP, or because increasingly waking up at seven sounds like a lot more fun than falling asleep at seven. No. I know i'm getting older because unexpectedly i find myself getting my Civic Engagement on.

Civic Engagement is a strange creature, strange to me any way. It's not the same thing as Politics; a rallying of people to your cause, building alliances with rhetoric and charisma until it all comes to a head in a final contest of words and ideals. I get politics. Civic Engagement on the other hand isn't really about teams, or ideals, or rhetoric. Civic Engagement is all about getting all of your neighbors together in one room to agree on one thing, in comparison Politics is very straight forward.

I got pulled into this strange and terrifying land by the looming  Dolores Park Renovation. You have to understand, Dolores Park is like a second home to me; you'll find my friends and i there on any sunny day that i'm not forced to toil away in salt-mine somewhere. And when it was decided the park was getting renovated (to the tune of 7.9 million dollars) my buddy Squirrel and i realized if someone was going to look after our interests, it was going to have to be us. So for two months in a row now we have trekked down to the cafeteria at Mission High to do our part in overseeing a project we both believe in passionately.

And strangely enough, it's kind of awesome. First of all, there are snacks and coffee (they don't tell you that in civics class). Second, the people who show up for these meetings care about the park. While they might use it in different ways than i do, or have a different vision for the Park's future, they love it just as much as i do. Third, i'm meeting people i would rarely encounter in my day to day life; soccer moms, grandfathers, podiatrists, mimes (all my years throwing parties, and i have never met a mime until now. i think that's hilarious).

But it's also kind of excruciating. The constant struggle of trying to achieve consensus will ensure that very little changes. There will be better irrigation, and better lighting, but beyond that...

Great works of art can never be created by committee.

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