Changing your world is a political process

You learn early on in journalism that “process stories” are a tough sell.

Articles about process — the clanking, machinery of erecting a dynamic edifice for action in government or business — ain’t exactly the kind that make readers say “Wow,” or “I’ll be damned; isn’t that something?” But because this scrivener observes politics, government, business and the like, an occasional process article is required. Why? Because, as French essayist and poet Paul Valery said, either amusingly or quite seriously in his day:

“Politics is the art of preventing people from busying themselves with what is their own business.”

Certainly he had something there, and he gave your scrivener a quote to dress up what might otherwise appear a dull process column. Another pertinent quote a bit later, but now on to the chase.

Supervisor Jim Shirk is urging advisory boards, commissions and the like to meet late afternoons or evenings in the Community Center’s Sierra Room so working people otherwise occupied during the day can attend. An admirable idea, but logistical process details must be noted. Said Sierra Room, which is where public access TV is situated so folks can watch meetings even if they can’t attend, is booked heavily for after work times.

Such change could prove a logistical juggle at best, nightmare at worst, to say nothing of cutting into advisory panel members’ family time more.

You gotta wonder if Shirk’s populist push would include spending extra bucks in a Community Center upgrade to put include another center hearing room with public access television capacity.

If access is important, planning and citizen participation are the other sides of the coin of this realm. Planning sets goals and determines ways to achieve them. Such planning efforts currently are under way in Carson City.

Next Thursday and the following Monday, which is March 30, open houses involving city government strategic planning will give residents a chance to weigh in. Thursday’s open house times at Fuji Park’s Exhibit Hall on Old Clear Creek Road are from Noon to 2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. On Monday the times are the same but the location is the Sierra Room at William and Roop streets.

For those who can’t make either, a survey seeking input is available online at the city’s website, A committed citizen easily can clear the hurdle Valery’s tongue-in-cheek quote noted about old school politics.

The city’s Cultural Commission also voted recently to recommend that a previously-done community assessment of and plan for Carson City arts be viewed as a cultural master plan. It could be updated by the commission because an intervening recession delayed a few earlier arts’ goals and the city has changed some. It’s another planning process pressure point, one that feeds into both quality of life and community economic development.

This all brings to mind what Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist, once said about this boring yet important thing called process:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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