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Posts Tagged ‘#Blogactionday’

Today October 15 is Blog Action Day, a day when around the world thousands of bloggers consider one topic. This year’s is “The Power of We.” Of course there will be as many takes on that idea as there are bloggers out there answering the call. Here’s a post from each of us.

We the People:  Who are the We?  by Stan

I am of the age when fourth grade class was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance. Pictures of George Washington and Lincoln decorated the wall. My childhood patriotism was of the heroic kind. But then came college history classes and the debunking. We know many of the Founding Fathers speculated in western lands. Those who signed the Constitution were generally well-to-do, some downright rich. George Washington was undoubtedly in the one percent. Lincoln was hardly rich, but as a railroad attorney certainly in the upper middle class in today’s terms. The two Roosevelts came from rich and distinguished families.

Hope for the Future © SR Euston

I know all of these things, as well as that the founders delivered a Constitution more than amiable to property rights, and even to slavery. But some of the old childhood reverence for my early political heros remains, the belief  that our common history is, all said and done, a remarkable testament to understanding what the welfare of “We the People” means.

We still live in a Democracy. Barely. Today, corporations, with their immortality and their newly bestowed personhood dominate the ailing Republic as the person of Washington dominated the politics of the early Republic. Washington, privileged though he was, was emblematic of a leadership beyond the material, a leadership evolved under extreme trials of sacrifice for the welfare of the commonweal. As the Republic grew, leaders, rich and poor, began to defend the “We” against the powers of economic domination and injustice—crystalized by the rise of populism, the Progressive Movement, labor unions, the conservation movement, the New Deal, the Great Society, the environmental movement. But now, somehow, We the People in 2012 find corporations without borders or patriotism or apparently soul, and some strangely motivated mega-rich individuals converting endless dollars into votes into power into privilege into dollars ad infinitum, overwhelming one after another of those hard won institutions and laws and ideals that have evolved since Washington’s time to protect the interest of the commonweal, of the “We”.

Like good parents, we as a nation try so hard, we spend so much money, to teach democracy to non-democratic countries we little understand.

It is a strange world.

Small Towns Do Big Things  by Ann

We live in Port Orford, a tiny hamlet on the southern Oregon Coast. The entry sign puts our population at 1190. Sometimes it seems there are at least 1190 different opinions on any given local issue.

But Port Orford is also a town where real people get real things done. Case in point—our public library.

In 1995, the library was bursting at its seams. Its actively used and overflowing collection was housed in a room in the City Hall. A group of dedicated citizens got together and began to dream. The donation of a central site on our main street coupled with a sizable bequest started the ball rolling. Countless local contributions large and small, bake sales, art sales, and you-name-it-the-community-tried-it fundraising events later, the state and county as well as private foundations joined the effort, culminating, 13 years later, on July 5, 2008 with the grand opening of the Port Orford Public Library—a multi-functional community center. Most impressively, the two million dollar plus library was debt-free when the doors opened!

Welcome to Our Library!

On annual visits, we watched and heard the story of this library as it grew from a community dream, to a muddy construction site, to the final exceptional finished building, to my eye the most beautiful in town. A community committed to books—it’s one of the main reasons my husband and I re-located here. I’ve heard others say the same.

We enter the library by passing through two art galleries whose changing monthly shows highlight the plethora of professional artists who call this area home. In front of the circulation desk, a larger-than-life sized bronze statue of a girl holding up the sign “Imagine” welcomes all patrons. Those patrons are busy at the many free-use computers, perusing the stacks, reading the magazines and newspapers. Two smaller conference rooms act as meeting spaces for book groups, community boards, meditation hours, bridge get-togethers. The large “Freedom of Speech” room hosts everything from yoga classes to Oregon’s Poet Laureate. The Friends of the Library sponsor giant fundraising book sales each year and run a store off the lobby. The Foundation Board works with the Oregon Community Foundation to keep the library solvent for the future. A small staff and an army of volunteers ensures that Our Library is Open Every Single Day of the Week. 

A Tiny Slice of October’s Book Sale

As Foundation Treasurer Joyce Spicer-Kinney notes, the library has become “our town’s living room.”

Now that’s the power of we.

For more info on our library visit: www.polibrary.org/

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