Category Archives: Politics

Civic Engagement

Every other Monday, I usually watch Ann Arbor City Council meet while tweeting commentary under the hashtag #A2Council. It’s kind of like Pokemon, but without the fun names. For those of you who are annoyed by it, my apologies. Tonight’s an off week, so I thought I’d write about other ways to engage the city besides throwing tomatoes. City-of-Ann-Arbor-color-medium

I recently attended a local “unconference” for people who want to make a difference in their community. There were a number of different tracks, and I chose to participate in the civics track. I heard a lot of great ideas, one of which I’d like to highlight, and two other things outside the conference that I’d like to share.

  • If you care about civics in Ann Arbor, please consider making a donation to CivCity, the next project of Mary Morgan, one of the founders of the Ann Arbor Chronicle. The Chronicle has been an indispensable tool when it comes to researching decisions made by city council and the various commissions in the city. Ultimately, I’d like to see the city be able to offer the kind of transparency the Chronicle brought, but in the meantime, CivCity is a great followup.
  • Did you know Ann Arbor has an online forum to solicit input from the public about different topics? No? Welcome to the club of almost everyone in the city! Okay, maybe it’s just my usual club of me by myself, but in case you’re like me, it’s called A2 Open City Hall. Currently, they’re soliciting feedback regarding dog parks. Nobody has responded. You could be the first.
  • You can participate in your city government! If you’re not ready to run for mayor or city council, there are boards and commissions you can participate in. The hardest part for me was figuring out how to get onto one. I shall lead you to the elephants’ graveyard.
  1. Decide you really want to devote an hour or two a month to civics. Don’t be a flake.
  2. See what vacancies are available on various boards and commissions: http://a2gov.legistar.com/PersonDetail.aspx?ID=0&GUID=VACANCY
  3. If none of those interest you, please review this list of boards and commissions, and write down the ones you might be interested in: http://a2gov.legistar.com/departments.aspx
  4. Fill out this application (maybe someday it will be online), and include different boards and commissions you might be interested in: http://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Documents/Board%20and%20Commission%20Application.pdf
  5. Return or mail it to:
    Mayor’s Office
    City Hall – 3rd Floor
    301 E. Huron St.
    PO Box 8647
    Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8647
  6. Wait.
  7. Eventually, you’ll receive a notice in the mail if you’ve been confirmed to be on a board. Or, you can watch City Council live and hear your name and confirmation when and if it happens. Don’t blink.

You can read more here about boards and commissions: http://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Pages/Boards-and-Commissions.aspx

Seeing Red

Pink and red aren’t exactly complementary, and few people can pull it off. I haven’t tried, myself. I’m not even sure why they’ve been chosen. I haven’t looked it up, either, because I don’t really care about that aspect. I didn’t change my profile picture, because if you know me, you should know that I’m gay, and I think two consenting adults should be allowed to be married in the US, regardless of their genitalia. I’m kind of on the in with this one. Implicit, not explicit, so to speak.

I’m also well aware that changing your Facebook photo isn’t going to change how the Supreme Court rules, but despite that, it’s nice to know that for all the years of:

  • Getting picked on as a kid for innate behavior, largely out of my control
  • Wondering, as a child,  if I was simply doomed to die, since gay men got sick and did so when I was growing up, and the growing suspicion I might be One of Them
  • Worrying that I’d never find someone to love, and even if I did, if my family would disown me

… there are now people who think I should be allowed to get married, legally. That finally, I’m considered fully (mostly?) human, after praying as a little boy for a higher power to change me into something acceptable.

My prayers were answered, just not in the way I’d ever anticipated: it’s inspiring to see the sea of support. It makes up—a little—for all those years of nagging doubt despite my best efforts otherwise.

However, I also wonder if we live in an echo chamber when it comes to the people with whom we associate, because I wasn’t seeing a negative response. I’m guessing Facebook’s algorithms work to screen these kinds of things as a side effect of how interests intersect otherwise. Or maybe people are just being quiet, figuring their stance is just as implicit as mine.

So I went looking, and found a few things. I found that some people, while they disagree, aren’t taking a political stance on Facebook. Thanks: I appreciate it.  I think it’s important to have people in your life with whom you disagree, and people who understand that idea are worth having around, even if you do disagree. Sometimes you can learn things.

Is this for or against gay marriage? I know some gay Christians who agree that God is love, and a plus can be used to add any two things together.

Is this for or against gay marriage? I know some gay Christians who agree that God is love, and a plus can be used to add any two things together. Vague messaging, needs better marketing. Does the Red Cross know about this?

A literal interpretation of Genesis? You may want to consider studying the bible—that means its origins, not just reading it.

A literal interpretation of Genesis? You may want to consider studying the Bible—that means its origins, not just reading it. If you want literal, there was only one rule in Eden: 2:17. Also, the honey badger would disagree with 1:28 and dominion over all the animals.

But there is a line: I don’t want to be friends with people who explicitly make it a stance to deny me my humanity. It triggers a fight-or-flight response—this is survival—and I’ve spent my life doing well by others, my community, and largely living by the tenets, morals and principles set by my family and church growing up. I’m not going to consciously allow myself to be stomped on by the fallibility of man. I’ll listen to an argument, and we may even do business, but we’re not going to be friends.

If you don’t like gay marriage, here are some tips:

  1. Don’t have one.
  2. Don’t go to one if you’re invited.

However, please understand: there is a separation between church and state, and eventually this particular institution will be realized within that context.

And to those of you who support us, thank you. It means more than you may realize.

 

No llores por mi, Argentina: Habemus Papam

When I was a first-grader in Catholic school, we got a primer on the Pope. John Paul II was installed when I was three years old, so I don’t remember the process, but as a six-year-old, I did think it was really cool that white smoke would billow when God chose a new Pope: it seemed like magic, and magic was cool. I also remember thinking that maybe I wouldn’t have to go to church between popes.

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I never tested that theory, because the next Pope didn’t come along for another 25 years, by which point:

  1. I understood white smoke was a chemical reaction based on people casting votes.
  2. I was no longer a practicing Catholic.

I have to congratulate my cousin Adrienne on being the second family member to have a Pope elected on her birthday. The first was my sister Kris, back in 2005, and I predicted it well in advance, much to her surprise. You’ve been POPED.

I can’t say I have much feeling one way or another, aside from raising an eye at his comment that “gay marriage is a machination of the Father of Lies.

In response, I’d like to point out:

Eventually attitudes will change, and at the very least, it doesn’t appear that Petrus Romanus has appeared.

If they don’t change, well, it won’t matter in a half-billion years when everything crisps up anyway.

2012 Michigan Supreme Court and 22nd Circuit Court Ballot Information

Tuesday’s ballot has a few sections for electing judges—you know, that part of the ballot where you go OH HELL, I WISH I’D READ / STILL HAD A CITY PAPER—so here’s where it matters. Nobody’s challenging some of the incumbents, so we’ll just skip those. The Michigan Supreme Court nominees are elected to eight-year terms for the entire state; the 22nd Circuit Court is specific to Washtenaw County. I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for, but if you know me well as a person and a designer, you’re not going to be surprised. I did this mostly so I’ll remember who to vote for… writing things down makes it easier to remember them later.

Justice of the Supreme Court—U Pick 2, like @ Panera

Justice of the Supreme Court (Partial Term ending Jan. 1, 2015)—Pick 1

22nd Circuit Court Judge, Incumbent—Pick 1

22nd Circuit Court Judge—Pick 1