Every day a Town meeting occurs at this website. The number of commentors is a low percentage of the number of actual visitors who read the articles at this site. There are no harangues and no glaring stare-downs. Consider the possibilities.
“…lets maintain a civil environment within (Woodstock).”
Last night, in Woodstock, we had a town meeting to consider (1) establishing an Ethics Ordinance, rather than having just a Code of Ethics, and (2) establishing the IWWA as an â€˜electedâ€™ body, rather than a committee formed by appointment. Both motions failed. As town meetings go, this meeting was well attended. There were at least 117 people present (as evidenced by the number of votes tallied), but I think it was probably closer to 130-145 people in attendance. I marveled at the process and the behavior of the participants, sensing the hard feelings in the room. People in attendance were respectful and the shouting, characteristic of the CPSâ€™ers, was not there.
It was pretty clear from the beginning as the room filled with familiar faces, with long-time ties, that the eventual result would be to keep the status quo. On the face of it, the items on the agenda seemed to be somewhat innocuous. The town already had a â€˜Code of Ethicsâ€™ as a policy, so it would have been a small step to make this â€œCodeâ€? into an â€œOrdinance.â€? Likewise, changing the IWWA from appointed members to elected positions would not have changed very much. One would guess that many of the current members of the IWWA would be elected anyway.
The passion that the attendees felt about the matters before them became very clear. This was not a hypothetical exercise about differing philosophies – it was personal. Some individuals in the room felt some had been attacked, their personal integrity challenged, and their place in the community besmirched. But, there was almost no mention of these unhappy thoughts in the debate of the motions before the assembly. A few comments (unrecognized by the moderator) leapt uncontrollably from the lips of some, revealing how close to the surface the emotions were in the room. There was an undercurrent in the room detectable from the strain in the voices of some participants that spoke volumes about how deeply injured some participants felt. However, the participants support of the status quo was never combative or offensive.
Woodstock is a small town. We are linked to each other through a myriad of connections. I enjoyed watching the attendees work out the issues at hand in a civil manner. In addition, I admired those who brought the issues in question to the fore-front and who spoke in support of changing the status quo. I also respect those who showed up just to be present only as silent witnesses. I understand how people from different backgrounds can see the same issue from opposing perspectives. I can also understand how difficult it must be for those born and bred around Woodstock to accept all of the new people and their new ideas and points of view. Letâ€™s not forget that both groups should be able to contribute to our community. I believe there is an upside to having had the debate that took place last night. All who participated should be commended for their civil passion and commitment to maintaining and/or improving the Town.
Politics has become a blood sport in Woodstock, but Woodstock is not big enough for this level of dissention. We must keep in mind that our children and grandchildren are in school together. So we must interact with each other at Town events and meetings in the civil manner that was demonstrated last night. We need to accept that itâ€™s okay to disagree, but we need to work diligently not to be disagreeable. And, we need to leave each other a little space to save face. There is enough mean-ness in the World outside of Woodstock, so lets maintain a civil environment within.