We’ve all heard of the “Good Old Boys Network” referring to wealthy networks for businessmen, developers, and politicians. These networks are not magically manufactured. Regular folk, who just happen to be wealthier and more powerful than everyone else, network amongst themselves to secure their interests against the rubes and rabble that outnumber them in their districts, counties, and states. Hanover County appears to have discovered the possibility that electing developers or their friends to their board of supervisors isn’t necessarily a good idea. They should have saw that coming.
Yet, the grassroots should learn about the power of networking. Whether it’s a conservative blog, an email group, Facebook page, or a TEA Party, creating a network of communication between busy, average individuals allows all the individuals to benefit from the knowledge of the others.
The Richmond Times Dispatch is rarely going to cover news stories about how corruption within government and the business community affect the average Joe. In fact, the media tends to demonstrate an organized effort to get average folks to go to war with one another while they collectively get the shaft.
Communication is the germ of organization. We’re all busy people with work lives, home lives, social lives, hobbies, church, and so on. Getting a large number of us to a Board of Supervisors or School Board meeting can be difficult. Who’s going to watch the kids? Is it going to cost me any sleep? Communication about the importance of these meetings allows people to know what will be covered in these meetings, when to show up at these meetings, and how to prepare, facts and information, at these meetings. Once elected, your local Representatives are often times the ones who are held the least accountable.
What if your local Board of Supervisors began seeing an extra 35 or 40 people show up at their meetings? What if people took notes and sent emails out to another 40 individuals who couldn’t attend? What if someone took notes and blogged about it? What if someone shared those notes on Facebook? Well, what happens is that The Board quickly understands that whatever they do is going to go public. Folk are going to ask them questions at Church or at the Supermarket, or wherever.
I know there is networking going on. I get emails from several people about all kinds of local developments. There are a handful of decent local blogs that produce real research on FOIA requests. There are several excellent blogs that cover politicians, political races, and events. There are community facebook pages that reach dozens if not hundreds of people. Where do you fall on the networking food chain? Are you attending meetings? Are you sharing information? Are you receiving emails from folks attending meetings or doing research? Are you on social media? Do you just read blogs or do you share them?
If you needed to reach 50 people about something important happening in your community; do you know who would be interested in that information and who would be likely to act on that information? Are you networked?
If not, just remember that “the powers that be” are extremely well networked. If you want to protect yourself from politicians and those feeding at the public trough, then you need to be involved in whatever network, whatever the size, in whatever form and with whatever reach, to even the playing field.
Article written by: Steven Brodie Tucker