Tuesday, August 3 is the nationally designated night for turning on your porch light, leaving the house and hanging out with your neighbors down the street or up at the neighborhood center. It’s meant to make people more aware of who the folks are who belong in the mix, so that the ones who might be making trouble stand out. National Night Out Against Crime.
This is also a good night for talking about keeping an eye out for each others’ kids (while watching them drain vats of orangeade and climb on the itinerant fire trucks).
A good night for toasting the cops who caught the drunk who smashed your car or listened to your complaints about a rowdy party.
For bringing a lovely crostini made from farmer’s market French bread and fontina cheese with tomatoes and basil from your own garden, to go along with the neighbors’ store-bought baked beans souped up with honey and the burnt bratwurst that shrivel up like old fingers if they’re not eaten fresh off the grill.
Talking about who’s lost a job or found new work, who’s off to college and who’s having a rummage sale. What businesses are starting up.
By the time August comes, we may be exhausted, fried, annoyed at nights upon nights of air conditioner noise, or worse yet, no cool air and the windows open so the raucous patrons of bars letting out makes it hard to get back to sleep after the 2:00 a.m., well you know. But the cold splash of water balloon toss at National Night Out brings a smile.
We won’t solve all the world’s problems on National Night Out but it is a good time to take stock. Like we make New Year’s Resolutions with a capital “R” on New Year’s Eve, perhaps it’s time to resolve to do more neighborly things like:
Take a walk and admire the flowers within a few blocks of your house.
Plant a boulevard garden and watch what’s going on down the street.
Notice the comings and goings as you’re going and coming.
Attend a neighborhood meeting even if no one has sent a flyer with a hot agenda topic.
Smile and wave if you see someone out on their front porch. Converse.
See if anyone needs a ride to the polls on August 10. Yeah, did you know we’re having primaries for some of the important political jobs?
…and the primary
Tuesday, August 10, non-party-designated offices that have more than twice the number of candidates as there are slots, and party-designated races that have more than one candidate from each party, will have a primary to narrow the field.
In Minneapolis, the most prominent of these races offers the opportunity to vote for those who will go on to the November general election for the at-large public school district seats.
It’s generally assumed the power of incumbency assures a person a job for as long as they want it. Lately, school board members haven’t been wanting their jobs for as long as they used to. So there are some real choices to be made.
Truth is, there is always a choice, and not just in the school election. Elections are the time when we can let incumbents know what we like and don’t like about what they’ve been doing, and encourage the newbies to promise to do what we’d like to see done. We can help them understand those promises with information, ammunition, and our own time and resources if so motivated.
Whether it’s at a forum, or meeting someone knocking on your door, or appearing at your National Night Out party to shake a few hands, give some thought to your issues so you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunity to get the candidates’ ear. Review what you’ve read or what’s available.
School candidates’ answers to our questions were in the July 14 Northeaster, and are posted online at nenorthnews.com. The Southwest Journal posed some tough questions, and the candidates’ responses are at www.swjournal.com.
Be an informed voter and take time on your way to work, or on lunch, Tuesday August 10, to cast a ballot. Gladly, or sadly, there will probably not be much of a line to wait in, compared to a presidential election, but how much more power that gives you…