Friday, July 06, 2018

"What If the Teen City Council Is Better Than the Grownup One?"

(laughs out loud, heads to the fridge for another beer)

What If the Teen City Council Is Better Than the Grownup One? by Kriston Capps (CityLab)

These high schoolers take their local government very seriously.

Brenda Platt gobbled up a lot of the time allocated for the June meeting of the Takoma Park Youth Council. A concerned citizen, Platt is the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an organization that lobbies local governments to adopt composting, among other environmental pushes. Platt detailed at length her failed efforts to launch a composting pilot through Montgomery County Public Schools, which seven of the council’s eight members attend. For at least half an hour, she outlined her tactical agenda and led the assembly through the Kafkaesque panoply of excuses that Maryland schools had given for shooting down her project.

This was local government at its finest: a council held hostage by one constituent’s exhaustive accounting of all the Byzantine frustrations keeping her vision from becoming reality. It was local leadership at its zenith, too, when Emma Morganstein, 17, vice chairperson for the Takoma Park Youth Council, cut through the crap. “This is an amazing discussion,” she said, “but unfortunately, we have to wrap up.”

Officially, newsletters and composting were the main items on the agenda of this gathering of middle- and high-school students appointed to lead and represent their peers in Takoma Park, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., well known for its progressive bent. A divisive downtown development was another bullet point, one that has also occupied the adult city council. But the first point of order taken up for the meeting, held in the town’s community center, involved pronouns ...

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