We had another fun potluck dinner last Thursday. Good discussion and food all around as always. There are two things I wanted to recap on local politics and policy.
Lewis talked about Participatory budgeting and its history in the city of La Crosse. I don’t want to get into a lot of detail as it can be complex, but the simple explanation is that the city sets aside a chunk of money each year to be spent in neighborhoods in La Crosse, and the neighborhood decides how to spend it. The neighborhood is in charge of organizing and planning the projects with help from the city officials and workers. This sounds like a great way to get our community involved in what is happening in La Crosse and harness political will. Participatory budgeting is already set up in La Cross through 2017, with 1.5 million dollars split between 2 neighborhoods. If we want to see this practice continued, we are going to have to push at city hall to make sure they know that it is wanted.
Which brings me to my second point: Running for local office. All 13 chairs of the common council are up for election in this April. I myself am planning to run for the council, and I am going to need help from this community in canvassing and getting the word out. If anyone else wants to run, don’t hesitate to do it now. There will never be a good or easy time to start filling these offices up with trustworthy people, and with the elections wrapping up today there will be a big void in media that we can fill in.
This Saturday, there is a workshop from 9 to noon on how to run for local office with Jess Thill and Patrick Barlow at the Main Street library. If you have ever thought of running for office, or if you want to learn how to best support another community member in a local race, come out and learn more. You don’t have to commit to running, but this is valuable information that you can pass on to others as well.
The next potluck will be November 17, starting at 6:00 pm. This potluck will feature a Citizen’s Climate Lobby meeting starting at 6:30. The meeting should be about an hour, and there are about a half dozen of us who regularly show up. If you aren’t interested in the CCL meeting, you can probably sit in the other room and socialize separately for an hour or show up late. For those of you who don’t know about CCL or have never attending the meeting, we are the biggest citizen-based lobby in the country pushing for a non-partisan carbon tax at the federal level. CCL is the epitome of a grassroots organization and has been growing rapidly since they started 9 years ago. Since they are non-partisan, some of you may feel that they don’t push far enough. However, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from their approach, and we all need to learn to work with the conservatives and centrists in our communities if we expect to see change on a large scale. I will send out the monthly phone call they host. It is typically quite interesting, as they always have a guest speaker that is typically a skilled scientist, politician, sociologist, psychologist, or organizer.