When I was reporting on the Mayoral Rotation on Monday night, it occurred to me that there was certainly enough material here for a book. I trust that most of my readers have a standing grasp of Culver City politics and government, but journalism by it’s nature requires that no assumptions are made. There must be a succinct set of facts that cover all the basics. The number of time I have written the location of council meetings – The Mike Balkman Council Chambers – doesn’t bear counting. Yet, I have people ask me fairly often, “Where is that?”
While many in our community want to connect to city government, there still seems to be a layer of shyness, as if admitting that you had a question condemns you as less than informed. But unless we ask those questions, however basic they are, we stay uneducated.
Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells announced two things on Monday night that I thought essential to bringing more people into the process; creating a youth council for the city, and having child care available on site at council meetings.
To use a decidedly ‘car culture’ phrase, this is where the rubber meets the road.
While we are a family friendly city in many ways, giving the parents of young children a chance to be present at council meetings without having to bear the cost and create the connection for babysitting is a huge and radical step towards inclusivity. It also gives children the essential experience of being able to feel familiar and comfortable with City Hall.
While I have not yet heard what shape or format a youth council would take, we would benefit greatly from having our students involved in our government processes. They will never have to ask where a council meeting takes place.
The other question I’m frequently asked is “What if I want to say something? How do I do that?” So, telling folks about filing out a card, giving it to the clerk, waiting to be called – people are often surprised. It doesn’t sound daunting.
Opening the city government to child care and youth participation may not seem all that radical; but it is. It’s revolutionary in exactly the way we need right now.
As Mayor Sahli-Wells noted in her speech focusing on climate change, we have a painfully narrow lane to create the policies that will save us from harm. Like turning an ocean liner, every inch of tack is going to take time and skill. We need all hands on deck.
Real change, sustainable change, is about incorporating small, vital changes on a regular basis.
And bringing the kids.