Getting Involved in the Decision Making
A diverse population of citizens and professionals filed into the brightly lit conference room, several with a packet that contained information about the presentation. Mostly everyone wore fancy business attire, causing me to gawk at their success and frown at my mom jeans. I stood by the back wall with Molly near a coffee table, taking in the unfamiliar setting of a City Council B Session.
Often times my friends and family would complain about the lack of effort put into the community on the city’s behalf. Sometimes they would raise questions about what the city’s intentions were, and whether they prioritized the citizens’ needs. Personally, I never really considered the processes behind developments in the city; in fact, I have never been deeply involved in the government or politics—I would watch the news, critique the decisions that I felt were poorly made, then go about my own business.
Upon attending the B Session, however, I understood that there is a significant amount of effort dedicated to planning and analyzing the issues that plagued the city. I learned that there are conflicts that the city focuses on annually, each of which requires an extended amount of time and planning. I witnessed one of the several steps that leaders must undergo in order for change to occur. The number of people involved, as well as how much they were involved was encouraging. I realized that I wanted to become more informed and participate in governmental and political processes affecting our city, which was “a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.”
The B Session was about the city’s plans regarding affordable housing. Mr. Gene Dawson, Jr., the presenter of the meeting, introduced us to sobering data and statistics that led us to realize the magnitude of the matter at hand. I learned that the number of home-owning individuals has been decreasing and factors such as the expensive prices have been one of the causes.
Before attending this meeting, I was under the impression that the city mandated outside nonprofit organizations to handle issues pertaining to the population’s housing needs. The mayor, Mr. Ron Nirenberg, implied through a rhetorical question, that the topics concerning housing were part of the city’s responsibility. To hear him explain that San Antonio is actively working to reverse the decreasing percentage of homeowners was quite inspiring. All of the low numbers from the presentation no longer appeared to be inevitable mountains; instead they served as roadblocks that could be fixed within the coming decades.
Following the presentation, I felt well informed and more secure about the issues in San Antonio. This experience gave me the opportunity to see how change occurs in the city and that I shouldn’t be afraid to get involved with such matters.