A few weeks ago I received a community meeting notice in the mail for a new development happening in my neighborhood. I am excited about the project and so I immediately put it in my calendar and told myself: “I’m going to this.”
But then a work commitment came up and I skipped the event. I always do this. I put these public meetings in my calendar with every intention of going, but then as soon as something else comes up, it gets bumped. So in the end, my voice will not be heard.
I say this not because I think my singular voice is all that important, but because I suspect I’m not alone when it comes to these community meetings. I live and breathe city building and if I struggle to attend these things, what does that mean for the average resident?
As soon as you create friction – such as having to go somewhere, physically – you’re going to lose a large segment of people. This also means that only those who are highly motivated will attend.
I saw this phenomenon play out in my condo building. At our first annual general meeting – when the building still had a bunch of deficiencies and the elevators were spotty – we had a sold out and lively crowd.
But as soon as things started humming along in year two (we are now a well-oiled machine), we then struggled to reach quorum. Why show up unless you’ve got a bone to pick, right?
What was the last public meeting that you attended in your city?