November 26, 2008

What It Means to Care

Justin Katz

During an interesting conversation, last night, a long-time Tiverton resident suggested to me that members of Tiverton Citizens for Change "don't care about Tiverton." The storyline is that we're newcomers simply looking out for our own financial interests, as opposed to townies willing, I suppose, to put the town's needs before their own.

With a broad brush, I'd suggest that the dichotomy does not actually exist. Plenty of lifelong residents vote and advocate according to interests no less narrow than than those of even the most selfish reformer. For others, "what's good for the town" lines up suspiciously well with "what's good for me." And for still others, the interest is a sense of power and control over the town, which is hardly a selfless motivation.

But it is a question worth asking one's self: Do I care about my town?

To be honest, I moved to Tiverton mainly because I was priced off of Aquidneck Island. The islander mentality is real, with its sense that crossing a bridge is somehow different than going down a short stretch of road. In my years here, however, getting to know people, getting lost on the way to this or that, riding along over every road as a UPS driver's helper one Christmas season, I've come to appreciate that, to the extent that circumstances forced me away from where I wanted to be, they pushed me to a wonderful town.

It's a wonderful town with some problems, no doubt, in a wonderful state with its own problems, too, but it's easy and attractive to imagine one's life unfolding within it. Clearly, I've invested myself enough to actively try to improve it.

But is that "caring"? I don't know; if I'm priced out of my house, I'll be out of here. On the other side of hope, if we were to succeed in getting the town and the state back to sustainability, with an open government and prosperous society, I can't say that I'd be doing much by way of community activities.

To be sure, it's been so long since my stroll through life turned to trudging that I can't imagine what it must be like to have the time to volunteer for anything other than dire necessities. Somebody else, last night, recommended a particular stretch of forest that would reward hiking, and I could only mark it down as something to do when there's room in my 18-19-hour days for activities resembling relaxation. If I had time for leisurely exploration, perhaps I'd make time for community service. We're a long way from that reality.

In the meantime, I'll say this: I care about Tiverton, and about Rhode Island, enough that I want people to be able to live here. I care about it enough to strive to prevent hard times from scraping it bare. Some who feel proprietorship of towns wish to preserve them in a state of fond once-ago, behind glass, as it were, in a state of glory. Such displays are wonderful for figurines — not so much for human beings.

The people in a place add its color and give it purpose, and I'd propose that if you care about your hometown, you care even about those who are changing its face, even about those who are passing through.

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Ah, the we don't care argument. This is what you say when you have no more logic on your side. Just keep to principles and eventually they will see the light.

Do they not care that people will lose their homes (and indirectly, jobs) if this madness continues?

Posted by: thinkaboutit at November 26, 2008 10:29 AM

what is illogical about that?

please explain ..

Posted by: Alfred at November 26, 2008 1:51 PM


It might simply be a matter of perception from one side to the other. It will be very interesting to watch the 2 new councilors and 2 school committee members grapple with the issues now that they are no longer at arms length but, up to their necks in them. I can only wish them the best as all of us truly need them to succeed.

I do appreciate your more tempered tone of late. While we won't always see eye to eye on the issues, it is encouraging to know that at the heart of both sides is the desire to fix the immense problems facing our town in the most expeditious & least costly way. Tiverton is a wonderful place. Now we have to make sure that we all can afford to continue to live here.

Posted by: Jay at November 26, 2008 2:20 PM

I haven't seen any logical explanation as to how the two principles guiding TCC: honest government + fiscal responsibility leads to a conclusion that TCC members "don't care" about Tiverton.

If you care about the town, then you want 1) an honest government, 2) people to be able to afford to live her and 3) bang for the buck on the money you spend. Pursuing these principles is the best way to help the town. I don't think any group in town cares MORE about Tiverton than TCC.

Posted by: thinkaboutit at November 26, 2008 2:21 PM


Actions speak louder than words.

And, please, let's not get into a "who cares more" battle. Sounds a little too your either with me or against me for my taste. As Jay notes above "at the heart of both sides is the desire to fix the immense problems facing our town in the most expeditious & least costly way."

Posted by: WillP at November 26, 2008 4:20 PM

Oh, you also may want to read Justin's excellent post about sarcasm below.

Posted by: WillP at November 26, 2008 4:23 PM


Maybe you're just getting used to me...

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 26, 2008 9:03 PM


It has come to my attention that you still use a Portsmouth address for your mailings. This is interesting to me because you now live in Tiverton and do not have an actual Tiverton address. If you are so concerned about Tiverton, you should at least post a valid address in the town.

I read your posts last night about how grateful you were to meet fellow responders to your website. I thought about coming over and introducing myself, but thought better against it. I thought about this previous statement and cannot wait to hear about all the union crap you and your drones will post about it.

It took some time, but I have figured out what you are about. You have already stated in previous posts that you send your kids to private schools. You cannot be hurting for money that bad!!!

Instead of attacking the teachers in Tiverton, why do you not look at the deal the town gave to the buyers of the recently completed condos in town.

It is my understanding that these people bought $500,000+ condos with the incentive to not pay taxes for some time!

Your hatred of unions is obvious. I am fine with that. No matter what we say, you will have a counter arguement. Do me a favor, before you criticise us, get to know us, know who we are and what we stand for. Until you do that, your entire forum is a bunch of crap. I would love to talk to you face to face. Not to argue, but to talk. Let's see what you're made of and meet me.

Posted by: Jon Devolve at November 26, 2008 11:15 PM

There's no conspiracy, Jon. I set up the P.O. box when I lived in Portsmouth and put it on various materials and lists. Since I work mainly in Newport and Middletown, I drive that way just about every day and saw no reason for the disruption of changing it.

As for not publicizing my home address, well, one of the reasons I got a P.O. box in the first place was the nature of my writing. I'm easy to reach by mail, phone, and email, and I don't encourage contact by other means, for obvious reasons.

Regarding private school: As I've stated elsewhere, I considered it a matter of responsibility to withdraw my children from Tiverton public schools. The lack of specific programs in which I'm interested was one consideration, but the behavior of you unionists was decisive. I suspect that if more parents experienced your behavior at school committee meetings during negotiation season, more would feel as I do. (And it isn't for no reason that Rhode Island has a very high rate of private school attendance, compared with the nation overall.) The decision does present us with quite a bit of financial difficulty, though.

As for a meeting of some kind, I'd love to be able to do so, but truly, I don't stop from 5 am to 11 pm, so my availability is extremely limited.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 27, 2008 7:42 AM


Actions speak louder than words.

And, please, let's not get into a "who cares more" battle. Sounds a little too your either with me or against me for my taste. As Jay notes above "at the heart of both sides is the desire to fix the immense problems facing our
town in the most expeditious & least costly way."

Oh, you also may want to read Justin's excellent post about sarcasm below.

Have you not been paying attention or is it that your commented on the wrong post?

Posted by: bobc at November 28, 2008 10:37 AM
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