"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.