I promise you that, now that I've decided to leave my job, my blog won't become¬completely dedicated to a discussion of that matter. Nor will it become only¬a discussion of my lack of a job when I'm back from Maine, depressed, eating whole blocks of Havarti cheese on the sofa while¬watching "Starting Over."¬ I did, however, want to point out that tonight I'll be covering my last Pittsboro Town Board meeting as¬a reporter for the Chatham Record. Notice that I phrased that carefully, because God knows sometime in the future I'll be covering some town board meeting somewhere and some loon who wants to punish me will find me and explain, "Cara. I read your blog. Your "last" town board meeting ever, eh? You really did yourself in." Because, let's be honest. We gather skills as we work in different areas and I'm pretty sure I can list community-based journalism as a skill, so there's a fair chance I may see a board meeting or two in my future.
Even if the fates decide I'm free of board meetings and board meeting agendas and minutes, though, I still might go to a few. Here's why: everyone should. I know, I know, you don't read this to get a lecture like you might from your seventh-grade social studies teacher, but town and county board meetings, although horrifically boring at times (I pity the poor boy scouts I see who sometimes attend, working towards¬one of those badges that requires one do 100 or so awful/really awful things like attend entire board meetings, not just ten minutes, which is really all you need to get the gist) offer the public a glimpse into just how many decisions lie between each little action that takes place where you live. New traffic light? Board members, I bet you, had at least a 40 minute throw down about that one. Another coffee shop on the main drag? Hour and a half discussion, minimum.
The education I've gained from attending who knows how many of these was¬illustrated recently as I was driving through downtown Carrboro and spotted a sign indicating that a public hearing was to be held regarding a particular plot of land at the corner of Weaver and Greensboro Streets. A rezoning request for a conditional use permit had been requested. I knew exactly what that sign meant and what it pertained to and could guess what might happen and drove on, very pleased with myself.
I realize that the weight of that moment may not gel with you who have not, for months,¬sought out some meaning¬in the many Monday nights spent pent up in a quaint little town hall building, but believe me, going to one of these meetings, just once, will completely bolster your respect for the representatives who serve on those boards.
And as a reporter, I feel it's my duty to tell people just how much work they do. And also as a reporter, because I've spent many a long night not only listening to but taking copious notes on the ongoing controversy regarding the potential rezoning to commercial use¬of a residential lot that backs up to a quiet neighborhood, when my friends were¬out having pizza and eating beer on the first beautiful night of the season, it is my right to feel smug when I pass a sign indicating a public hearing and know what's up with that. Oh, and if you're in the car don't even think for a second you're not going to hear all about it.