We spent the bulk of our two hour drive up to the state capital discussing the events of our town’s Representative Town Meeting the previous week. Riding shotgun was a fellow member of Emerge Vermont’s inaugural class; we’d met at town meeting during a break of Brattleboro’s yearly marathon wrangle/tangle session. Clearly policy geeks, 12 hours’ worth of town meeting was not nearly enough for us. We filled another 2 hours with talk of school governance, school funding, bond issues related to infrastructure repairs, and bringing each other up to speed on the various characters in our quirky town. The drive flew by.
We laughed uproariously at one point when she shared with me that one of our town’s aging curmudgeons—and perennial pessimist at Town Meeting—had a side gig posing nude for drawing classes at a local school. I shrieked, “Thanks! Now I’ll never get that image out of my head!” She grinned sheepishly back at me. It was a wonderful reminder that although politics are often extremely serious and can be endlessly fascinating, they are also sometimes very funny. Because, after all, we are all wonderfully, tragically human, and that basic humanity means we each bring a great deal of complexity to any endeavor.
I think the complexity was what I enjoyed the most from my first training day with Emerge VT. I delighted in listening to each woman’s speech—a short talk that wove together a personal story and a political issue of particular importance to us. The speaking styles were varied, and each woman’s unique voice, tone and “stage presence” gave the speeches distinctly different flavors. But whether the speaker was dynamic or subdued, there was an undeniable authenticity and commitment to be found in her story. I left that hallowed room at the State House feeling weary from a job well done but surprisingly buoyed by the energy in the room.
Rebecca (Becca) Balint
Emerge Vermont Class of 2014