Hollie Grimaldi Flores: ‘Stand in the place where you live’
It must have been the late 1980s when I went to see the alternative/folk rock band R.E.M. at an outdoor concert in the East Bay. The concert was fun, and the band delivered on the songs an R.E.M. fan would expect to hear, but what I remember most about that night is the T-shirt I brought home. It said simply, “Think Global. Act Local.” It speaks to how young I was, and how naïve I was, but when I first saw the phrase, I didn’t really understand the concept. Sadly, it had to be explained to me, but once I understood it, I understood it!
Since that time, I have tried to remember to focus on my own community and not get too lost feeling helpless about not being able to change the world. Over this past year, keeping hope alive has been difficult, not only for me, but for my children and likely many of you as well. It is so easy to fall into despair when we have suffered so many losses and there is so much uncertainty still ahead. When I look too far into the future, or too far away, it is daunting. I am working to reel it back in and focus on what changes I can affect in my own backyard. A series of small victories can be a game changer in the game of hope.
Some of those victories will be found in the outcome of the upcoming elections. There are many local races that will have a major effect in our community as well as some with long reaching consequence. We have been watching discourse across the country. 2020 has been a year of marches, protests and movements and there is still much work to be done to repair this damaged nation.
While I find myself aligned with some of the more vocal movements, I have difficulty with others. For instance, the idea of defunding our police. How would that work? I have tried to understand why reform is not enough for those demanding change and asked my kids to explain it to me and while I still don’t agree with the extreme, I do see the systemic issue and the need for change.
So when I saw a statement from our local Sheriff’s Office announcing the creation of a Mobile Crisis Team, which will pair a deputy with a therapist to respond to mental health, substance abuse and other situations to help deescalate some critical incidents, I thought that is a local answer! The coordination between agencies to get people help instead of simply locking them up is at least in part, what I understand to be a start, in solving one piece of the issue. That is local change! I sent the announcement to my son asking if this is what the defund movement had in mind and he concurred. This is a piece. This is a start. This is a real-life example of what voting locally can do to make a difference in the community in which we live. We elected a strong leadership with vision, who can implement real change.
Does it change the entire institution? It does not. It is a step forward in changing a system that does not work as intended – a local act to a global problem.
When you vote on Nov. 3, vote knowing the marks you make on your ballot will make a difference right in our own backyard – by voting into office those who will be mandating policy in our cities, authorizing strategy around water, implementing new tactics to our educational system, and programs around fire safety – to name a few.
The propositions are also important and of course, the national contest comes with unprecedented fervor.
If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to take the time to have your say. Several years ago, I wrote about the importance of being an informed voter. I am repeating those thoughts (in part) here. Please take the time to be an informed voter and avoid these pitfalls:
Voting for gender: Gender (or race) alone does not either qualify or disqualify a person for the position they seek. A candidate needs to earn votes on their own merit, regardless of gender (or race). In other words, they must know their stuff!
Voting straight party line: Partisanship is crippling the judicial system! It is worth your time to find out which propositions and candidates, individually, speak to your own ideals.
Voting for the incumbent, just because they are the incumbent: This is simple. If you are happy with the way things have been going in a particular arena and you have the option of re-electing who is making that happen, do so. But if you are only voting for someone because they already have the job, take a moment to consider what new energy and a new viewpoint might do. And, if you are not happy with the way things have been going and there is another candidate who seems to align with your principles and values, consider voting for them.
Voting for the most familiar name: If you are checking the boxes on your ballot and the only reason you are making a check where you are is because it’s the only name you recognize, please put down your pen! Take a few minutes and find out what the candidate stands for. Does it align with what you stand for? Vote accordingly.
Voting exactly the way a spouse, friend or organization is voting: This one might be a bit greyer. I would say if you trust the source and agree with them on most issues, it is far from worst case, as long as you gather enough information to form your own opinion.
While this year has been riddled with restriction, our right to vote is one way we can exercise our freedom. Think Globally. Act locally and (in the words of R.E.M.) stand in the place where you live!
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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