It’s the Thanksgiving Tradition—What are you thankful for this year? We circle the table—people are thankful for friends, family, health, a decent job they love….and I—I am thankful for my neighbors. I am thankful for my neighbors, who show up at council and committee meetings, speaking truth to power, striving to save our commons for our joint future. They step up, state their names and addresses, and speak. Sometimes their voices shake, until they warm to the subject, but they speak.
I am thankful for Lori, who used powerful visual images to convey the absolute massiveness of a new development, forcing the city council to reconsider its approval and the developers back to the drawing board for the third time. The sticking point?—solar access for a small house across the street. Common goods.
I am thankful for Tom, who raises issues constantly in front of city officials, who was on the front page gesturing towards a parking lot one evening, saying “They want more variances than there are cars in that lot!” He is always there, hanging fliers, talking, listening, writing letters. What about the rest of us, who live here? What can I do to help? Common goods.
I am thankful for Stewart, who goes to every meeting, shares his huge body of knowledge with the rest of us, and shakes his head vehemently when he does not agree with the speaker. He has taken new activists under his wing, pushing us forward, explaining the intricacies of the city budget. Common goods.
I am thankful for Harry, who raises my food organically, shares his knowledge of farming and writing with everyone, and organizes ballot measures to prevent GMO crops from being raised here in the valley, where they will contaminate not only organic food, but also organic seeds. Common goods.
I am thankful for the long lines of people who show up to fuss at meetings, protesting when a few developers make huge profits by destroying our neighborhoods. And those same people show up on a sunny June morning to photograph every building in the historic neighborhoods around the university, so we know what we are about to lose. Our history, our culture, our unique town. Common Goods.
And I am thankful that I know these people—and all of the others--, who bring their own voices and skills to bear on huge issues, who continue to speak and fight, who teach me, every day, how to become a better activist and citizen.