Monday, May 19, 2008

ECA meeting: jam packed

Interesting phrase, that: "jam packed." Packed like berries in jam?

Anyway, that's how it was in the spring ECA meeting at the hall, to which I was late because I forgot to print out the copies of the agenda and the bylaws proposal and remembered to do it only about five minutes before the meeting started. There were more people there than I think I've ever seen at a spring meeting. The EMCE was made an ad-hoc committee of the ECA, the park budget was raised to $500 a year (gas and fertilizer prices have shot up), and the Boy Scouts asked for $1000.

They didn't get it.

A few of us were sort of shocked. I mean, aren't the Scouts all about self-sufficiency and figuring out ways of doing things themselves? We voted to give them some seed money (I proposed $50 but a couple people suggested upping it to $100) for fundraisers, and then gave them a ton of ideas on how to raise money and do good for the community at the same time. One of the ideas was for a spaghetti feed or some such, combined with a new clean-up work party at the park.

That was another issue of some importance. Mark Simpson (park czar) said that only about three adults showed up, all day long, for the work party. The next day, 100 people showed up to play at the park, and left a mess. Mark was EXTREMELY discouraged, and proposed turning the park over to the borough. After all, he said, if there's not interest in maintaining it for the community, perhaps the park has outlived its usefulness as a community park and has become an albatross instead.

This is a real problem. There are a ton of people who live around here and use the Ester Community Park. Those people need to show up and work. Otherwise, it isn't really theirs, and they're just freeloading. These work parties are VERY important, and there are only one or two of them a year. That's not much to ask from the public, and when the attendance is as abysmal as last weekend's was, it can really wear down the core volunteers and make them wonder why the hell they even try.

So, folks, SHOW UP the next time there's a work party at the park! And there will be one soon—the park crew got less than a tenth of their tasks done. Watch for posters at the post office and Gold Hill. I will post a notice here, too, and on the web page for the park once I know for sure when it is.

Mark's discouragement let me know that I wasn't the only one feeling let down. I brought up the problem of the library: there's no point in trying to build a library if we can't get people to maintain it. And right now, I am the ONLY one cataloging and shelving books. So I brought this up, and explained that even though I've publicized this need, it's not getting answered, and so I called for volunteers to help shelve books. I whined and pleaded a bit, but I got three people to commit to helping out on a regular basis. Yay! Jan Ohmstede, Melinda Harris, and I think it was C├ęcile Lardon all volunteered. Jan and Melinda met me after the meeting and I showed them the routine at the library.

Matt Reckard said, and I agree, that it's ludicrous to try to build a library when we can't even maintain the community hall. The floor needs refinishing desperately and there's a couple of dangerous outlets that need fixing, plus the walls need repainting (the last time was when we had the first Blank Slate show there, I think). There's been materials waiting under the porch to redo the foundation for SEVEN YEARS! He said he's willing to work on it this summer if he has some help on it. I volunteered to work with him on this. So did a couple of others.

So, o people of the Ester area, we have our work cut out for us this summer. Ester's cool events and places don't just spring up on their own. They require work—they require YOU. You, personally, are responsible for them. That doesn't mean, however, that work parties are drudgery, although judging by the lack of attendance lately, you all seem to think so. That just shows that you haven't been to any! Ester work parties are among the best parties we have! And I mean that--good food, good drink, good companionship, music, etc. These things are parties, folks. (That's why they call 'em parties!) And of course, the best thing about them is that, rather than having just a hedonistic good time (nothing wrong with that, by the way), you get the sense of accomplishing something really worthwhile and meaningful to you and your community. Making Ester a better place means it's better for you.

This sense of community spirit is one of the reasons I moved to Ester in the first place, and it's what keeps me here. So: see you at a work party soon!

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