Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Watched Government

I continue to be missing in blogging although this time it is for work. Last Wednesday evening found me in the third training in 5 weeks in another small city in my state. A while ago I wrote about a presentation I made about my organization's efforts to strengthen foreclosure prevention law in our state. That bill I was talking about became law in November, 2007.

This current round of presentations are called "Legislative Learning Sessions". A colleague and I are working to get more folks engaged in state policy advocacy - how their tax dollars are spent and what bills become laws. Years ago I learned a wonderful phrase - "A Watched Government Behaves Differently" - and hope that at the end of the session people get that. They get that this is their government and they have a say in it.

Last Wednesday's session was unique because my colleague and I were in the minority - nearly everyone was a Spanish-speaker. We turned the tables and wore the translation headsets and had the translator translate for us.

I kept hearing stories that their local government was not responding to their needs. I challenged them to challenge their government. Watch them. Write letters to the newspaper. Go to hearings.

I saw one of the participants this week and asked her if they had stormed City Hall yet.

She waved her hand, rolled her eyes and assured me as she turned away it was scheduled for tomorrow.

1 comment:

Jenn in Holland said...

This is an inspirational post on several levels. The first being, I am so impressed that you turned the tables and let the english speakers receive tranlsation while the native spanish speakers could learn and communicate in their own tongue. That's a powerful message of respect. Also, the idea behind what the training is all about is fantastic and I love the way you encouraged the participant once again in passing. It's just really fantastic.
You are good, you are.