Three years ago, on September 26 at 2:21 a.m., my son entered this world and injected a tangible motive for the work that I do. Raising him has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience of my life.
For many of my peers, the first child marks the beginning of the end of youth. However, I possess the appropriate level of immaturity and non-graying hair necessary for fooling my colleagues into believing I was “young”-ish.
But it’s time to stop to the charade. You see, I turned 40 last week and I’m now solidly in the mid-career professional stage.
I’ve often joked that when my 40th birthday rolled around I would have to have to relinquish my “young professional” membership card. Since there is no such thing, I’ve felt it apposite for me to take this occasion to wrap up my Spoke status for indyhub.org.
I’ve been lucky to share my opinions here at The Great Green Hope since 2009 and I’m especially grateful to Molly Chavers and Karissa Hulse for the opportunity. It’s been a great outlet for me and it’s been helpful in my professional endeavors.
I’ve often taken this space to talk about the need for expanded and enhanced mass transit in Central Indiana. I’ve also written about local food, sustainable agriculture, the toxicity of fireworks, natural lawn care, the greenest burrito and number of other sustainability issues.
So as I fade into the young professional sunset, I want to share just a few thoughts that have been on my mind recently…
Little Big Town
Last Friday, I attended the We Are City Summit at the Harrison Center for the Arts. There were lots of great folks in the room, most of them passionate about city building and for their hometown they affectionately call Indy.
The last presenter of the day was former Deputy Mayor Michael Huber. In his introductory remarks he said one thing that makes Indianapolis exceptional is the ease of getting involved for a city of its size. That’s so true. NUVO's David Hoppe made a similar point in this recent piece.
The point is this – if you want to get involved or make a difference in this community, the only thing holding you back is you.
Another speaker at the We Are City Summit was Brad Baubien of Ball State University. He spoke about the importance of the agora in the cities of the ancient Greeks. The agora was a place for all citizens. As Brad pointed out, “They all mingled. And that was a critical physical manifestation of democracy.” (I highly recommend reading a summary of Brad’s comments in this archived We Are City Briefing article.)
He went on to lament that we don’t really have agoras anymore, which means we don’t experience one another often enough. Subsequently, we don’t understand one another and that thwarts our ability to have a thriving democracy.
Brad believes that efforts like Indy Rezone, IndyConnect and Reconnecting to Our Waterways (which I wrote about in this recent post) can help bring back the concept of the agora to Indianapolis. I give that concept a +1, Like and a RT.
Share of Voice
My parting words are an attempt to persuade you to really get know your local candidates running for office. In addition to the POTUS, you have the opportunity this year to vote for your Governor, State Senator, State Representative, U.S. Representative and one of your U.S. Senators.
Don’t allow yourself to get completely sidetracked by the presidential election, for it is the local officials that will make decisions that affect your daily routine such as your employment opportunities, your educational system, your commute, your energy sources, your neighborhood safety, your air and water quality, and the list goes on and on.
I happen to know from talking to one of my current legislators that he doesn’t support transit. His challenger does and that’s one factor I’ll take with me as enter the voting booth. I only know this by getting to know my local candidates.
I encourage you to throw your past political affiliations and ideals out the window and examine the candidates for the one that has a vision for your community that most closely aligns with yours. You might surprise yourself.
… That’s it. I hope to continue to stay in touch and meet more of you as we give Indy a healthy dosage of great green hope.
“I have had all I can stand of not taking myself seriously.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard
Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm with a focus on providing creative content, advocacy and communications strategy for all things pertaining to sustainability. Ryan is an Indiana University-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of 160+ Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact Ryan at email@example.com or on Twitter @rmpuckett.