Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Politics of the Local Variety

Late yesterday at work, we got wonderful news.  Our request for a bus line on Taft Street and a bus stop at our campus has been sent to the mayor of Broward county--and he has requested a feasibility study!

You might wonder why I see this news as wonderful.  I have been hearing about how we need a bus stop for our campus since the first day I arrived.  And there have been naysayers that said it could never happen.

And it might not have happened, had we not gone to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in August, which I wrote about in this blog post.  After the breakfast, we met the mayor, and I explained that we really needed a bus route.  He tried to brush us off by saying that it wasn't really his decision as it would be up to the county, but he'd see what he could do.

I said, “We would really appreciate that.  I know that a lot of government attention goes to the beach and the downtown area of Hollywood, and I live in the historic district, so I understand that it’s easier to work for the prettier parts of town.  But the citizens who live out west need government help too.”

Since then, we've been to several events where we've seen him.  My colleague who is the head of Admissions has been better than I have about reintroducing herself and reminding him of our need for a bus stop.

He finally wrote an e-mail to the mayor of Broward county, Beam Furr, and I felt a bit hopeful, since he was once my representative in city government, and I was impressed with his voting record.  And now, he has asked for a feasibility study.

We've made good points about the viability, about our campus and several shopping centers that are on Taft Street.  We've talked about the long distances between existing bus stops and about how much safer it would be to avoid all the walking that people have to do to get to those bus stops.  We've talked about how the area is growing, with the major construction on Highway 441.

I have no idea what to expect at this point.  But I feel good about making it to this point.

Again and again, people with brighter minds than mine have reminded us all of the good that we can do if we get involved on the local level.  It's often those decisions made by local governments that have the biggest impact on our communities.

People may scoff at my happiness over our bus line request moving forward, but I look out my office window and often see the same people trudging up and down Taft Street.  Would those people take the bus?  Some of them probably would.  I know that we have students who could use a bus stop that's closer to campus.

In this time when I feel deep despair about the actions that aren't being taken in Washington--or worse, an even deeper foreboding when our federal government actually does something--it's good to remember that not all political involvement is futile.  We know what our communities need--and our local government leaders, who are members of the same communities are often willing to act on our requests for actions that will lead to community health and vitality.

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