Trash talk and all: Taking lessons from council meetings | OUR CORNER

On Mondays, you’ll likely find me sitting in the back row of the council chambers, listening to a Renton City Council discuss local politics.

I listen to committee presentations, public comments, special hearings and the chitter chatter of everyday city dealings. I watch officials construct, deconstruct and reconstruct policy that’s meant to enrich the lives of residents.

One time I listened to a council talk about garbage for one hour. They talked about garbage. For. One. Hour.

I’m a 20-something-year old learning very slowly how to be an adult. I just didn’t realize how much garbage was involved in adulting.

Turns out our readers had a lot of feelings about garbage. Some were angry. Some were concerned. Some were straight-up crazy. The issue affected their everyday life, so rightfully, the story mattered. The implications of how the garbage was handled mattered. Garbage mattered.

More than learning about garbage matters, I’m learning what really makes a productive, healthy community.

I still haven’t wrapped my finger around the golden answer. But I have learned this – there is a fine line between choosing what benefits you right now, and what benefits the community in the long run.

As an unmarried millennial in the infant stages of adulthood, it is easier for me to think about the community as a whole and vote for measures and/or candidates who will benefit the entire city. If I were married with little nuggets running around a house, my priorities would likely shift. I might be inclined to put my family’s well-being before my city’s.

At the council meetings, I’ve observed council members and city officials grapple with the same dilemma. As public servants, they have to serve their residents and do what’s best for the city as a whole. However as residents, they have their opinions on what benefits them.

For example, is more economic development the answer for a vibrant city? Sure, it brings in more jobs and generate more revenue. But does it overlook the residents who are suffering the most? What about our moral obligation to provide for those who don’t have the resources to thrive?

What’s the right answer? How do you prioritize the needs and wants of a large, diverse population? How do you take care of all the people you serve in the most responsible way?

I don’t know.

What I do know is this – a productive, healthy community is built upon people who care.

People who care aren’t necessarily the answer. They often butt heads and disagree and fail to keep the peace. Caring often blurs into crazy and incoherent. Perhaps that’s why we need democracy.

However, it is people who care and who work tirelessly for the benefit of all residents who shape the heart of our communities. It is the people who sit in the tension of ‘what serves me’ and ‘what serves all of us’ who are able to make the tough but important decisions. Teachers, social workers, business owners, public servants, thinkers, doers, motivators and problem-solvers who resist apathy and dare to dream for a better tomorrow are the ones who are able to pave the way to that tomorrow.

Strong cities are built upon citizens who care.

Leah Abraham, staff writer for the Renton Reporter, can be reached at 253-678-3148 or labraham@rentonreporter.com.

More in Opinion

State taxed with the challenge of keeping up with a robust economy

Gov. Inslee: ‘Our revenue system is designed for a Model T economy in an Internet Age’

Carbon fee hurts business and families | Brunell

Reduce pollution in our atmosphere without punishing workers and families

School is back in session, and KCLS is ready to help

It is fall and a busy time for teachers, students and parents.… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee. REPORTER FILE PHOTO
He’s not on the ballot, but Inslee is campaigning like it

Republicans may find votes in making the election a referendum of the Democratic governor’s agenda

Avoiding trouble tweeting

Think hard before posting an angry, irresponsible or accusatory message

Living in an era when emotions, opinions outweigh facts

“In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and… Continue reading

What’s really going on at King County Solid Waste?

Deliberate misrepresentation of facts and opportunities?

Lampson beating odds for family-owned businesses

They are the backbone of the American economy

Move forward on water quality standards

In an unfortunate reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to… Continue reading

Even with postage paid, voters couldn’t send ballots on time

While those ballots don’t get counted, taxpayers still must pay the Postal Service for delivering them

Much needed dose of Yogi Berra’s wit and wisdom | Brunell

With today’s tension and rancor, we need a dose of Yogi Berra’s… Continue reading

Their I-940 made the ballot, but not the version they prefer

A much-divided state Supreme Court blew up an unusual compromise when it… Continue reading