– Govern by thinking like a mom
People have been part of the world’s ecosystems for a few million years. Our impact on the planet is huge, undeniable and inevitable for as long as human beings survive. To a great extent, we choose which plants and animals are allowed to live in any given place on the planet, making our Earth something akin to a giant garden. Like gardeners, we are the creatures in the picture best able to learn from the past and make quick shifts to the system when circumstances change. Like gardeners, we don’t get to pick all of the challenges that come our way. This Earth Day a new virus has set governments worldwide a tremendous challenge to restructure their priorities and responsibilities. Here in the USA, in a matter of weeks the social safety net has become the primary source of cash most people use to purchase the necessities of life. Next year there will be less money available for Federal, State and local governments to spend. Does that mean there is less capacity for food production? Are there less materials from which to build shelter? Are there less brains to think with or people to get things done? There are plenty of resources. There are means of production. It is our system of distribution that has taken the hit and if we make no changes our economic recovery will be slow and chaotic. If we are to survive and make sure our children thrive, we need to rethink how we distribute the things people want and need. Elected officials should think like moms think about their families. Better yet, think like grandmothers.
- Take care of people, plants and animals around me. If they are thriving and I am checking in with them regularly, I am doing my job. If they are suffering, I need to find out why and do whatever I can to fix it. For example, we need to start reforesting with trees resilient to our changing climate. We need to keep working with our local non-profits to address homelessness and addiction issues. We must make sure our Seniors and Veterans have a dignified way to access food, care and housing. We need to make sure Foster Care in the county is properly funded and supervised.
- If I don’t have what I need to keep the county healthy, my job is to figure out how to get it. Some ways of going about this are to form alliances with people governing other jurisdictions for cooperative efforts, explore how other places are solving the same problems we face and keep in touch with people who are really good at finding pools of grant money. Also, moms don’t often sweat over calling in the experts. Finding the right people to bring a project to fruition or provide reliable information saves everyone time and grief.
- Our house, our rules. Good moms don’t make random rules, but the ones they make are mostly for reasons of health, safety and keeping the peace. Regardless of how they behave at home, when visitors come, they are expected to follow house rules. We have a lot of visitors. On Tuesday Dr. James, the Public Health Officer, said he thinks wearing a mask in public is important, but since everyone who lives here has been pretty good about this, it shouldn’t be mandatory. I can tell Dr. James is not a mother with lots of neighborhood kids around. I think for a while it has to be a law, not a choice about social etiquette. Also, everyone hates a rule they have to follow while their neighbor “gets away with it”, so rules like building codes and septic requirements need to be interpreted and upheld in uniform fashion.
- Plan for the future, look to the long term, but be flexible. Better ideas, opportunities and tools may present themselves. It is like helping your kids prepare for life. Learning to trade immediate comfort for long term benefit is helpful in most scenarios. We are going to face some tough economic times with hard choices to make about what to do with a much smaller county budget. In the short term cutting projects and positions will be the quickest way to balance the budget, but long term budgeting needs to be considered differently. We have to address Climate Change with every dollar spent and we need to keep an eye on infrastructure so we don’t spend money to support obsolete technology when with a bit more effort we can prepare for something better.
The future can be a good one here on Mother Earth.