- Alex Pace
It's your community - Madison County Ga - Read it
As a reporter, I cover a variety of meetings on a veriety of topics. No two meetings, no two groups are ever the same. But one thing is a constant: there is rarely a young person in the room.
Other than attending for a recognitions from the school board or awards from local government, there is a noticeable absence of young folks in every meeting I cover. And even in those situations where they attend for an award, the moment the chairman gives them the "OK" to leave, they are out the door. Oh, how I envy you sometimes.
Granted, before taking the job at the newspaper, I'd never been to a city council meeting, a health expo or a public hearing. Whether I thought the topics would be boring or thought city council meetings were for the "grown-ups", I opted out. Or maybe I needed to catch up on my Netflix queue.
But after covering local meetings for these past couple of years, I've learned that local government is interesting and no matter your age, you can attend public meetings. And you shoud.
Many of the decisions made in the meetings will affect you more directly that any action taken on Capitol Hill. Road paving projects and park enhancements might not get the same level of publicity as immigration reform and health insurance, but when those projects are being done in your neck of the woods, it affects you more directly. Sure, local government doesn't have the glitz and glamour of national politics, but it's no less important.
And for those young folks that are 18-and-older, being informed on local politics is even more important. With city elections coming up this year, being informed on the options can give you assurance that your are making the right choice on the ballot and not blindly casting your vote.
But public meetings aren't just for those interested in politics. And not all meetings will be interesting to everyone.
The key is to finding a meeting you're interested in. If you're interested in health, go to a board of health meeting; educations, to a chool board meeting; taxes (bless your heart), to the board of tax assessors. You can go to city councils, library board, airport authorities, theatre boards, historical societies. If there's public service offered by the local government, chances are it's discussed in some public meetings. Find a topic that interests you, research the meeting dates and times, find the agenda, and go.
The first meeting might be intimidating. You won't know the history of the topics and won't understand half of the more technical discussions held. Keep going anyway. Learn, take notes ask questions after the meetings, and you'll begin to understand more.
You'll begin to know more and more about the elected officials who represent you, what future goals are planned for the area and what projects your taxes are going toward. You'll learn more about the community. Despite your age, it is your community too. (Alex Place is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers Inc.)