Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Democracy in-action

Just got back from a Neighborhood Community Council Meeting where I learned a few things:
  1. People come out in droves when an 80 year-old home is about to be torn down in a historic neighborhood and replaced with a 7200 square foot stucco monstrosity.
  2. It's a little (a LOT) annoying when your ELECTED city-councilperson is smirking throughout the entire thing, and at one point asks a vocal neighbor to leave the room with him so that they can have a little "talk". Who does he think he is?...The Godfather?
  3. The status quo is an awfully tough thing to change.

So, my wheels are turning. I like projects. I used to like the kind that involved glue and paper and and glittery things with photos. Now I don't like those kind of all. Now I much prefer projects that are worthy of my time. Here is my "bucket list" (as far as projects go, that is...not adventurous, sexy, wild things...I have that "bucket list" too mind you):

  • COMPLETELY RE HAUL THE PUBLIC SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM (can you tell I am passionate about that one? I mean really? What type of degenerate third-world backward country gives their kids the kind of food that makes them fat, hyperactive, and dumb? Oh, that would be the richest country in the world??!! Crazy. I used to not care. Probably because I was brought up on said crap. But, seeing what it does to your son when he eats the "alternative entree" of (I-KID-YOU-NOT) Trix yogurt, a package of Teddy Grams, and chocolate milk, with MAYBE a carrot from the sealed-and-only-a-razorblade-is-going-to-open-it-package, is enough to freak you out. You notice that he is very hyper right after he eats...probably a result of the 40+ grams of sugar (more than a kid should have in an entire day) that he has just ingested. Then, right about the time that recess is ending, he hits a wall...this would be a result of his blood sugar plummeting. And this would also be at the time that he would be doing his math in his school class. So guess who would be a great candidate for Aderall or Ritalin? Yep, but guess what? He would also be a great candidate for PROTEIN and NUTRIENT-RICH CALORIES. So, I guess the school has so many complaints that the school-lunch-head-honcho for the state comes in to talk with the school-parent committee. (On a side note, if you are wondering WHY my son would choose the "alternative entree" it is because the "standard entree" is some cooked-back-east-shipped-to-Utah-frozen-reconstituted-hockey-puck-that-resembles-a-hamburger). This head-honcho's sidekick tells us that the state is required by Federal Law to provide "adequate calories" to the children, but that they don't count the sugar. So basically they are saying that for all the underprivileged kids, where this may be their only meal of the day, we have to fill them with a bunch of calories, regardless of whether there are ANY nutrients at all! A disgrace. I could go on, and on and on but I will save that for another time. Here is a great link that I am truly inspired by: and this one: The moral of my long winded rant is that I WANT, and deserve, CHANGE. Every kid, not just mine, deserves healthy food that will help him to excel.
  • OK, next way-out-of-reach-but-I'm-a-dreamer-project: Street Lighting around my neighborhood. Makes ZERO sense to me. All the residential streets are lit up with these darling little lamp posts, and the street that the elementary school is on is pitch black. Big deal you say? How about 2 sexual assaults on school grounds within the last 6 months, and loitering, and drug use. All after hours mind you, but how fun for the kids to find beer bottles and condoms on their play ground the next day if the school janitor hasn't caught it all in her morning sweep of the school grounds.
  • OK, food, lights, what else? OH YEAH- revamp our neighborhood playground. Obviously designed by a man. The kids-who-are-swinging kick the kids-who-are-playing-in-the-sandbox that is right at their feet- smart. No play structure for kids over five. inadequate seating, etc.. Ooooh, I have grand plans for this one!! I am thinking a bike path around the park, having the play area fenced in so that dogs poop on grass and kids play not-in-the-street, and maybe even a community bulletin board...oh, it would be awesome!

So, I need to gather a lot of support for these ideas. Isn't that how people-who-get-things-done, get things done? I have no idea, as I don't have major accomplishments like these under my belt... yet. But doesn't this sound like the type of thing that neighbors would like? I hope so. I mean really, raise your hand if you are in favor of feeding your kids garbage and having them play with condoms on the playground, while they get their head kicked.


HLB said...

Ashley, I love your ideas and I know that you absolutely can make these happen. I wish I lived in your neighborhood and could join forces with you to get these done.

Sara said...

Isn't it fun being grown up? I'm serious, it is, but it is also eye opening.
John and I were very active in a city planning and zoning project, which we opposed. the proposal would directly benefit our home, and we felt like we couldn't complain if we didn't get involved. We worked hard, getting letters signed, information out, research, etc. But when we got to the actual Planning and Zoning meeting, it was a CHARADE. We were the only proactive community members. Otherwise it was a kiss butt session that revolved around $$. It was so frustrating for me.....but I LOVE your ideas. It gets me thinking, I can't have this attitude in my community for my children. The democratic process needs to be real and accessible, especially at the community level. Because this is not the Godfather, this is America.
Good for you!

AJenkins said...

I totally believe in YOU! If you are as good as your scrapbooking days in bean town, I would put my money on any project you made your mind up to do. I would start with the street lights. That would be something smaller that you could develop a group of like minded people to help with the projects that you are passionate about. Never give up on school lunch, though. Their response infuriates me. I would write a letter to the effect that impoverished children deserve quality over value and quantity. We all know fast food isn't nutritious and yet is the argument being used. What is the point of eating a ton of calories if the nutrients they carry are relatively absent or unusable? Their brains and bones deserve just as much consideration as their gut does!