I had been both looking forward to and dreading the two meetings I participated in yesterday, because both required a lot of preparation on my part, and because I am so used to just sitting here in my privacy, researching and writing part of the day, walking with puppy Shadow in the morning, working in the GANG garden in the late afternoon or evening, doing my yoga, chi kung and tai chi, talking briefly with various podmates, and. . . and. . . not much else! I’m really not the gadabout type. I do travel, but not so much in my local area, except to for lunch dates with son Colin of the Garden Tower Project every few weeks and with my dear friend Perry once a semester!
So, that I agreed to go talk about the GANG garden to a group of elder women gathered together by my friend and neighbor Georgia, and that I, on my own inner prompting, and as promised on this blog had also decided to speak to our City Council during the time allotted to any citizen before the business of their meeting begins — and that both of these civic events were scheduled for the same day — kind of blew me past my comfort level. Especially because it meant that the past week has been unusually full of homework.
The GANG garden started in 2009, and I decided to show its entire evolution from then until now. Katarina and I both worked on getting that slide show together, and I’m afraid it wasn’t quite done when I gave the talk. I will finish it and then put it up on this blog next week.
And the other meeting? I had decided to speak about the TPP to our city council, in hopes that I could persuade them to join other cities and towns in drafting and passing a resolution declaring the city of Bloomington a TPP-Free Zone. To this end, I prepared myself with lots of notes and quotes and went armed with nine printed copies of a sample draft resolution from the Alliance for Democracy.
Well, I’m hear to tell you that both events went swimmingly, and ended up being a lot of fun besides. Here I am with some of elderwomen (friend Georgia is front left) before my talk. The first slide of the show is already up on the television, above, in background.
I jumped right into the presentation, starting with the dirt on the right knee of my trousers. Told them I had gotten dirty the day before when I found myself stuffing mud and rocks into a little slit between a newly installed limestone top and a crumbling “bench” that an architect had designed and built, but clearly he didn’t know his materials, because by the first winter it was already failing. And here we were four years later, and I was finally getting around to saving what was left of it. That bench had been a substitute for a regular store-bought bench that I had installed for people who walked the street in front of my house, for them to rest awhile. The said architect, had, unfortunately, run into the bench, at night, when leaving my house in his truck after a meeting. And, he had persuaded me to let him design and build one rather than replace the other. I had agreed to the experiment.
This is how I began the talk, by talking about an experiment that failed. I then detailed other experiments in the garden that had failed, or turned out to be other than we expected, over and over, including the big huge “failure” that, it turned out, was actually the incorporation of the shadow. Long story. I’ve told it here. Go to the new Cob Oven Saga page on this blog to see it.
These women were all old enough to understand failure, and the unexpected gifts of loss. And the power of persistence over time. They were, I’d even say, crones — which is the most honorific title in my lexicon. See Crones Counsel XXII.
The slide show went on for an hour. We could have gone another hour, had time been allotted. Terrifically engaging.
Next, my foray to the City Council.
I read over my notes, not sure whether I’d read them or just wing it. When the city council president asked for public comment I was the first to raise my hand. (BTW: I had announced to them via email two weeks ago that I was going to come and present this proposal.)
Well, when I got up there I just found myself talking, passionately, about food, local food, and how the TPP and other trade agreements, if passed, would put all our local decisions in jeopardy, and explained why. As I was speaking I sensed that about half of the council was rooting for me, and the other half seemed somewhat perplexed and surprised. I then brought out the copies of the sample resolution and asked that the City Council consider the idea of joining other cities in towns across the U.S. who are declaring their localities TPP-Free zones.
Though I was allotted five minutes, I doubt I was up there that long. I spoke clearly and and directly. I then went and handed the copies of the resolution to the clerk, and left the room.
On my way out of city hall, I was walking down the steps when I heard a shout in my direction. “Ann!” I turned. There was the president of the Council, who came running up to me, excited, saying that one of the council members has already drafted a resolution, that it is almost finalized, and that they are going to bring it before the entire council for a discussion and vote. Said he was really glad that a citizen had introduced it first.
Obviously, we were both glad to be citizens in our local town where democracy still counts, where citizens voices are heard, and where we don’t mind standing up to the big corporate guns, knowing that cities and towns all across this land are beginning to do the same.