September 28, 2007

Lots of meetings this past week:

  • Colville National Forest Budget Planning meeting on Monday in Colville, representing one of the Pend Oreille County planning groups
  • Reardan High School CWP (Current World Problems) class, presentation on importance of civic engagement
  • AIA (American Institute of Architects) Northwest & Pacific Regional Conference in Spokane on Wednesday night, Thursday, Friday night and Saturday; Co-Chair of conference.
  • CPoW (Cattle Producers of Washington) Annual Roundup in Moses Lake on Friday representing AgForestry Leadership program with my project partner, Cal Mercer.

In between I actually got some work done for clients and kept the 19 sheep and goats left at home fed and watered, met with a contractor to discuss remodeling at our church, plus got the car into the body shop in Airway Heights for repairs after hitting a deer last weekend. I’m not listing all this activity to brag, anybody who knows me at all well won’t be surprised that I’m busy and a hard worker. Here’s the common thread of all of the meetings – government is cumbersome and confusing. The result is wasted money, wasted time, frustration and a feeling of futility from the next generation - but there are hopeful signs. The Colville Forest meeting was a promising experiment in using real local input in national forest planning, and people did come to participate and listen. At least a few of the high school seniors asked what they could do to get involved in their government, and I think they will follow through. The AIA conference and CPoW round-up were opportunities to connect with old friends and make new friends with shared values, and I noticed an interesting similarity between the disparate professions of architecture and ranching. Architects and ranchers are alike in a belief in the inherent importance of our work and a focus on values, sometimes at the expense of the bottom line of our businesses. In both professions, regulatory complexity can get in the way of carrying out those values. Regulations are a sneaky way of imposing taxes, when regulatory mandates require private funds to be expended for public purposes, or for what appears to be no purpose. Talking to high school classes is a great way to keep from getting cynical about the possibility of creating change.