We face a myriad of challenges today, but perhaps no challenge is greater than overcoming a pervading loss of confidence.
At an international, national and state level, voters appear unsure what course of action will best lead their governments back to a level of prosperity. An unprecedented number of individuals find themselves without a way to provide for their families. Deep divides in philosophy about the role of government preclude even a discussion on issues of great national import. Economists tell us our economy cannot grow because companies and investors do not have "confidence." They are sitting on the sidelines with their money, waiting for more certain economic conditions that may never arrive.
Even locally, we see a grave uncertainty about how to fund transportation and development plans that will allow us to retain a vibrant county economy.
Nevertheless, it is folly to expect that government alone can lead us out of the morass. "We’re from the government, and we are here to help" is an applause line for stand-up comedians, not an expression of confidence in government.
That is why, here in the Braddock District, I seek to build confidence someplace closer to home – in ourselves.
My Citizen Governance Initiative seeks to involve citizens in real policy-making, from land use and environmental management to transportation and aging. At my recent Citizen Governance Conference, a cadre of citizen leaders zealously grappled with these issues during the day-long event, and pledged to form citizen-led committees to continue their work. Their enthusiasm was contagious, inspirational, and consequential.
For my part, I pledged that their work would not be ignored, but would form a foundation for future county policy proposals. Our new land use committee will review all development decisions, and author an updated land use plan for the district. Another group will study and make recommendations regarding transportation options. A third will look for ways we can keep our seniors active and engaged in our communities. It is my earnest hope that is just a beginning.
These citizens, and others who will join them, will make a real difference in their own lives, and their neighbors. Perhaps by building confidence first in ourselves, we can provide a foundation for renewing our confidence in our government and other cultural institutions. Citizen governance is about people taking charge of the government we own and making it more responsive to the citizenry.
I’m feeling a little more confident already.