Hanging on a Street Corner with my Local Councilman

Living in a nice, friendly neighborhood is great, but I often forget how many of us still hole up in our homes, giving barely a nod to acknowledge passers-by or other neighbors. It’s not as bad as when I lived in New York, but it’s still easy to live anonymously — or at least pretend that you are. This morning I had a nice reminder that we share our living areas.

I was out with a cup of decaf (watch out, world!) gathered on a street corner at 7:30 am with several neighbors and our friendly Councilman, the ubiquitous Tom Owen. I’ll spare you the details, but the essence is that our block is an accident waiting to happen. There’s a wide turn, rather than a sharp corner, no stop sign, and cars FLY around the curve paying no heed to pedestrians or other vehicles. Since so many children live on the street, we’ve been hoping the city would listen to our pleas, which have included the signatures of just about every homeowner on the block. So we gathered there today to watch cars roll through stop signs while we chatted about the weather.

I must admit, I was impressed with our Councilman. I mean, I know he’s a nice, well-liked man. He’s been my councilperson for as long as I can remember, and I love seeing him out on his bicycle at all hours. I wasn’t expecting much out of the morning’s meeting, however, because I’d long-heard that the Councilman is not a proponent of speed humps or stop signs. I figured he’d shake our hands, count cars, and say there’s nothing he can do.

Really though, he took notes, asked questions, discussed potential solutions, and was very honest about budgets and possibilities. More than anything, he listened to our stories and ideas. I shouldn’t be so amazed being that that is his job description, but it was a really nice reminder that government is there — or at least supposed to be there — to represent constituents like me. It’s nice when people surpass your expectations, and it’s sad that our expectations are so low.

Also, and I know this is sort of a selfish reason to respect the man, but at one point after we’d counted plenty of speeders, he turned to me and said, “Now Brigid, you have GOT to stop stressing out about this wedding.” Then a schoolbus arrived and we all remarked how smart it was of the driver to pull into the middle of the street, preventing cars from going around the bus. Granted, my fiancé works in Metro government, so it’s not too far-reaching, but I still never expected the Councilman to remember having met me, of all the people he sees on a daily basis. I meet tons of people when I’m out playing shows, and I have the hardest time remembering them, even with the help of Facebook. Good thing I’m not in politics.

One final thing I learned from watching traffic between 7:30-8:00 … since when did 9-5 jobs start starting at 8:00? Ouch.

2 Comments on "Hanging on a Street Corner with my Local Councilman"

  1. Rick Redding | March 24, 2011 at 9:36 am | Reply

    Great piece, Brigid. If all the Council members were as honest and conscientious as Owen, I think we’d have a pretty well-run city.

  2. Kudos to Councilman Owen and to your neighborhood group!Sounded like a good meeting. Seems there is more action with coffee than committees ANY day!

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