Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting in touch with your inner Leslie Knope

I've been traveling a ton lately for fun and work - so it was pretty amazing that I actually caught the email about the City Commission vote on the Non-Motorized Transportation Plan in Royal Oak. And it was even more amazing that I'd be in town to lend my support for this awesome and comprehensive plan.

Re: the title of this blog - I've been called Leslie Knope before - for those of you that don't get that reference - Amy Poehler's character on NBC's Parks & Recreation. And for those of you that don't want to Google that? She's super civically-engaged, dedicated to all people/things related to the city she lives in. Really the type that would go to bus system board meetings and try to map out how transit funding flows in her spare time. Sound familiar!?

So having a reason to go to the City Commission meeting and speak at public comment? Sign me up!

 I'm there about 5 minutes early to survey the scene, scope out the other non-motorized transportation fans are in the room. I see some other local bikers and we congregate. My seat is on the aisle - which is important to the story later.

 Public comment starts and it's a lot to do with events coming up in the city - Memorial Day Parade, etc. Good stuff. Then this man and his two young-adult-age kids get up there and I perk up to listen. They start reading prepared statements about a fundraiser and a blood drive they are having at their respective schools. At one point - the younger kid reads "come to the circle drive at the school - and not sure where that is? Not to worry - we'll be waving you in with balloons and signs!". I have no idea who these kids are but I was BEAMING. These prepared statements. How much they already care about their community. Speaking up in front of a room of adults - using a microphone (which still freaks me out) no less. BABY LESLIE KNOPES. Ah, it gave me so much hope.

So they finish their statements and start to walk back down the aisle. My hand is already raised, ready to be called on for my public comment. The youngest kid, feeling joy from his very successful public comment, raises his hand too. I'm confused for a second, but then I realize - he thinks I'm throwing a high-five! He quickly realizes, sheepishly looks at me, and puts his hand down. But hot damn - I totally would've high-fived that kid. Let's bring that kind of excitement to City Commission meetings! LOVE IT.

And to make the meeting even better? The Non-Motorized Transportation Plan PASSED. Royal Oak is getting bike lanes!! YAY!

Thanks to the local non-motorized transport activists (ahem, Tom Regan for being our fearless organizer!), the consultants that worked on this plan, the Planning Commission, Mayor Ellison and the City Commission. This is democracy and progress at its very finest. So, so proud to be a Royal Oak resident!