Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Friday night happy hour

I grew up in Western Kansas and there were two things that were (and still are) very important to my father. The first is supporting local business even if it is slightly more expensive (a major concession since he is also a depression baby and a bit of a skinflint) and second, supporting public schools.

So last Friday was a particularly interesting day for me. After work, I headed down to 18th & Vine to attend the 1st anniversary of Viable Third, hosted by local bloggers, Gone Mild and KC Sponge and was intrigued and impressed with the grassroots philosophy of the Viable Third in trying to get people in that district to commit to spend their money in their community. I love this idea which also flows nicely into my "buy locally produced food" philosophy.

The other agenda for the evening was to introduce the blogging community to Airick West who is currently running for a seat on the Kansas City School Board. I don't talk about politics much on this blog although I have very strong opinions about the issues but, what I do talk about and care about (which involves doing some work) is the need for everyone to find out about and research the issues, discover what the candidates stand for and then actually getting off the couch to vote your conscience.

I also care very much about supporting our public school system. Yes, the KCMO public schools are a disaster and yes, I have a great deal of sympathy for parents who pull their children out to attend private schools because they want the best for their children but nothing will get better if everyone in the community doesn't get involved in helping to facilitate change at the neighborhood level. If all of the involved, energetic parents work only with their child's private school, where does that leave the children who are left behind. These are the kids who need to see positive parenting skills and successful adult role models. These are the kids who need room mothers and community members involved in their school. These are the kids that need mentors and friends and fans cheering them on.

Small towns have some really annoying aspects but on the positive side, the entire community revolves around the schools. Everyone in town attends the football games and cheers on the team (no matter how bad they are). Likewise when the drama club puts on a play, everyone attends, even the people who don't have children. So, take a page from those small towns, find out what your neighborhood public school is doing and start supporting one or two of those activities with your time. Go to the art exhibits, attend the basketball games, the bake sales or the community readalongs. If you don't, who will?

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