Monday, July 30, 2007

The Meeting I Made

Truly friends, have things changed. Among the many ills brought about by commuting is the fragmentation of communities that disproportionately depend on long commutes for their economy. Where I live, where the average commute runs someplace in the 90-minute range (which usually means New York City), there's really no way that anyone wants to come home after such a slog and figure out how to attend the library board meeting, the school night, the church concert, etc. As County Planning Commissioner David Church put it:
"People just can't make the commitment," says Church, who notes that many towns — and his department — schedule meetings later and later, hoping for better attendance. All that time commuting is a big reason why volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps from Blooming Grove to Bloomingburg are hurting for members. "Communities lack the connectedness. It's less of a democracy."

That was my lot for the last four years. Last month, I changed jobs, and changed commutes....

And this evening, at a very civilized 7:30, my wife and I sat down in the Hamptonburgh Town Hall to hear the Orange County Water Authority's presentation on the regional impacts of climate change. The keynote speaker was Dr. Patrick Kinney of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, who summarized a recent report on climate change projections for the northeast. The host was Simon Gruber, head of the Water Authority and on every local green's rolodex. And I had the pleasure of saying hello to Mr. Church, who continually advocates for smart development in the county.

It was precisely the meeting I wanted to attend, to feel like part of the space up here, to listen to people who knew something about the air I breathe and the water I drink and who understand how to keep those things working properly. But it was time that allowed it.


TeeJay said...

The Guess Who had a song back in the 70s for commuters like us:
"No Time Left For You."

Magpie said...

Nice. Another reason to quit my job. The reasons, they are a piling up.