Loose Ends: A place at the table

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MEEKER | Years ago as a reporter, I first became aware of the need for local government to send representatives over to Denver to make sure decisions about our area were not being made without us. The Piceance Basin was booming and plans were being made to handle the influx of energy workers. It soon became apparent that western slope development was often spearheaded by those who kept Front Range concerns at the forefront of their minds. 

So when I heard someone use the phrase “a place at the table” recently to describe the work of legislators, it reminded me of our own elected municipal and county officials. They may have a place at the table, but their most important task after being elected is working together with each other, as well as those from other cities and counties to meet the challenges everyone faces. It is not about caving in when your viewpoint is rejected or simply bullying your way forward without listening to the people who have voiced concerns. It is all about collaboration.

During every kind of economy, boom and bust alike, it appeared that the concerns of our populace as represented by the county and local governments were sometimes left out of the discussions. They might have officially had places at the table so to speak, but they were elbowed out of the discussion and certainly did not spend enough time at the shared table to make a real difference.

“Go ahead and sit a spell.” I heard this time and again while I was out interviewing people for an upcoming feature or story. I did not take this lightly as I soon realized that the story this individual wanted to share would never unfold if I didn’t slow down. Often the speaker was an oldtimer who wanted to be heard, or someone who was relatively new to the community. If I got up from the table too soon, it indicated I really wasn’t interested in the story they were willing to share. 

Community involvement is the best way to take a place at the table. Keep the size of the table in mind at all times though, so that your voice and your opinions won’t go unheard.

By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the Herald Times