Last Thursday a colleague asked me to give a talk to his Public Speaking class about serving on Lamar Town Council, working as a teacher, and how I balance the two. Below is the written version of that talk, which is adapted in part from my post “Small Pond” (read the full version on SubscribeStar).
As I recently detailed in the post “Routine Maintenance,” I managed to get my old 2006 Dodge Caravan running again thanks to an $80 battery. I finally hooked up the battery maintainer, too, so hopefully the old girl won’t drain down due to neglect.
After installing that battery, it reminded me of how fun driving a busted up minivan can be. Readers might scoff at that notion, but that van and I share an intimate connection (well, at least I do with it—it can’t really think about who is driving it). After fifteen years, I’ve learned that machine inside and out. Sure, after driving my tiny Nissan it takes some adjustment (I still reach for the gear shifter in the wrong place occasionally, and briefly forget where the lights are), but it’s surprisingly nimble.
Aside from the maintainer, I’ve been taking the van for weekly drives to keep the battery up. My girlfriend and I took it to Lee State Park a few weekends ago, loading our small bit of supplies and her faithful German Shepherd into the cavernous interior. Since then, I’ve only done a few small jaunts with it, with the exception of last Thursday night.
At my second Town of Lamar Council Meeting, my colleagues outvoted me 4-1 to renew Lamar’s mask ordinance for another sixty days. They also shot down my proposal that we reopen council meetings to the public, who can currently only attend online via Facebook Live and Zoom.
That’s precisely what I expected to happen, and I appreciate their reasons: concerns about safety, etc. The big, lingering question—one I can’t get out of my mind—is “when does it end?” At what point are we safe “enough” to remove our masks?
Last week was an exceptionally busy one for yours portly, with a number of duties and responsibilities intersecting at once. I’m sure many readers have noticed this phenomenon, but there is a decidedly cyclical nature to workflow; indeed, it’s almost tidal in the manner it ebbs and flows: I can go for two or three weeks enjoying a fairly placid schedule, only to have a couple of weeks of intense activity. Everything seems to come to a head at the same time.
That’s particularly true in education, a field that is structurally cyclical, with regular intervals of heightened activity baked into the calendar. The third quarter ended Friday, marking the beginning of the end of the school year (fourth quarter—that last, mad dash to summer vacation—starts today). That means last week was a flurry of finalizing grades and writing report card comments.
My school requires unique, individualized comments for every student, and though we teach (on average) fewer students than the typical public school teacher, we’re expected to go above and beyond. Because my colleagues and I were scolded as a group for comments deemed inadequate (for the record, I always write exceptional comments), I decided to double-down and write even more ridiculously detailed comments. Our registrar read through them Friday morning (after I worked furiously and late into the night Thursday to finish them before the weekend) and said, “I felt like I was reading a novella.” Mission accomplished.
That’s all to say that I’m very tired, so I thought this Monday would be a good opportunity to offer some brief updates.
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I’ve had my first Lamar Town Council meeting and am slowly learning the ropes of the Town and its needs. I’ve grown up with local government—my father worked in municipal government for thirty-seven years, doing everything from reading water meters to managing human resources, and now is the town administrator for a small town in his semi-retirement—but I’m learning how little I really knew going into it.
As such, I thought I’d share some of my initial reflections, and what I’ve learned so far. Note, I won’t go into anything that’s not public information (to my knowledge, I haven’t learned anything confidential as of yet), but just offer up some of my observations as I’m learning the lay of the land.
That all said, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive start, and I’m excited to dig in, learn as much as possible, and help out however I can.
It’s been an eventful week, so I figured an extra post today running down the posts from the past few days would be worthwhile. Also, I’m a slave to the WordPress daily streak counter, and when I scheduled this morning’s post on Wednesday, WordPress for some reason immediately e-mailed a preview; ergo, I want to make sure I get the daily post streak. Gotta keep the streak alive!
So, here is a quick rundown of this week’s posts:
- “Memorable Monday: Happy MLK Day 2019 – Suggested Reading” (Monday, 18 January 2021) – Some suggested reading for your day off, including Neo’s link to MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
- “The Last Day of Freedom?” (Tuesday, 19 January 2021) – Some musings on life under the (then-pending) Biden administration. Contra one anonymous commentator’s claims that I was lying and fearful, a closer reading of this long post indicates that I am optimistic, not about the national government, but about local government and community-building.
- “Inauguration Day 2021” (Wednesday, 20 January 2021) – Some more reflections on the Biden-Harris Era, as well as my own inauguration to Lamar Town Council.
- “TBT: Gardening” (Thursday, 21 January 2021) – A look back at the joys of gardening, and the satisfaction of feeling my own soil between my fingers.
- “The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s’The Moldau’” (Friday, 22 January 2021) – Some mild analysis and major appreciation of a beautiful piece of music—something lighter for your weekend.
The day has arrived—the briefly delayed third term of Obama’s presidency. In the years since Obama left office, the progressive Left has become even more insane. After a four-year reprieve under Trump, the radical progressives aren’t going to let another opportunity pass to transform the country completely.
Things are going to get worse before they get better, which is why I’m encouraging my fellow conservatives, Christians, and traditionalists to think and act locally in the years to come (H/T to historian Brion McClanahan for that pithy phrase). Now is the time to attend town/city and county council meetings, to run for local and State offices, and to build up communities. While we can do some of that online, we’ve got to get out and meet people—join Bible studies, form local clubs, revive forgotten civic organizations, etc. Heck, even play at an open mic!
Here we are, 19 January 2021—the last day of basking in liberty before Biden the Usurper assumes the throne. For all his personal foibles and occasional missed opportunities (while acknowledging, of course, his many achievements), President Trump at least fought to ensure that Americans could enjoy freedom and opportunity. Under progressive rule, no such guarantees exist.
But rather than look about gloomily at what is to come, I’d like to offer some words of exhortation. Times will not be easy for conservatives and Christians over the next four years, but I’m trying to embrace this new progressive era with some cautious, small-scale optimism.
For one, I think the whole sordid election fraud, as well as the bipartisan effort to impeach President Trump for—if we’re honest about it—discouraging violence and encouraging peaceful protest—has confirmed for many of us that the elites of both parties are against us. As such, effecting change at the national level seems increasingly futile.
That might sound discouraging, but consider it from another angle: if we can’t make much of a dent at the national level, then why waste the energy? Instead, let’s focus our efforts locally.
Well, the results from yesterday’s election are in—and I won! At some point (soon, I hope) I’ll be sworn in as a member of Lamar Town Council.
I don’t have photographs of the final print-out, so I don’t the breakdown by precinct, but I hope to obtain that information soon. I got the results from the election workers as they pulled the receipt from the voting machine shortly after 7 PM EST last night: 121 for Cook, 69 write-in.