Monday, November 2, 2020

Civic Leave

My job with Pesticide Action Network continues to go reasonably well and I feel as if I am providing the organization good value for my efforts.  I recognize that many people cannot say that about their employment and I am grateful that I can do so.  In fact, I have been privileged to apply myself to multiple professions and be able to say that I have done my best to give a quality effort in all cases.

The Communications Associate job for PAN is different from many of the others because I now interact with people who are organizers and community activists.  Perhaps I will get into this topic a bit more in the future - but how lucky am I?  I have experienced the worlds of so many different professions.  I have lived the life of a software engineer and programmer.  I've had the opportunity to be a part of academics.  Early in life, I was exposed to various types of contract labor, music and competitive sports.  And, most recently, I have farmed.

In any event, the people with whom I interact with at PAN are different in many ways from each of these groups.  But, there are two key similarities that I have noted in all of these professions/groups of people:

  1. There are lots of good people who deserve respect and kindness.
  2. I don't exactly fit in.

Offering Civic Leave to Employees

PAN has many people who are civically engaged - wanting very much to do specific campaign work for the coming election.  But, the non-profit status of the organization prevents PAN from direct involvement along those lines.  An amazing thing happened.  The organization recognized this and provided a certain number of hours of civic leave where each of its employees could act as they saw fit to apply it.

Some of these folks are volunteering to be poll workers.  Others are working hard for a candidate of their choice as a volunteer.  Still others have other local organizations they want to help out at this time.  It's a wonderful gift.

But, what does this farmer/academic/software developer/writer/former musician and ballplayer in rural Iowa do?  

"Typical" Civic Leave

Well, the first thing I did was not exactly "civic leave" from my job because I actually wrote this as a part of my job at PAN.  I authored a blog for the organization in my voice discussing some of the reasons why I think everyone should vote.   I was told by several people at PAN that it is a very good blog.  While I am grateful for that, I would just rather that people took their votes, their research on candidates, and their fact checking seriously - and if this blog helps people to do that very thing - excellent.

You may also have noticed that many of my most recent blogs have been pointed, without pushing a particular political viewpoint terribly hard because I am more concerned about division and intolerance than ever.  That said, I will clearly state that I am voting for Biden/Harris, Theresa Greenfield, Abby Finkenauer, Pam Egli and Carissa Froyum.  I will also tell you that I am not a 'straight ticket' voter in general.  I pick the people I think will work best for my communities.  

I vote for people I think will serve best and be most responsive to those they serve.  I am not pleased with the poor response I get from Craig Johnson and Sandy Salmon.  To make it perfectly clear - Johnson has never responded.  Salmon doesn't seem to read what is written or listen to what is said.  Both Egli and Froyum have been responsive.  Why wouldn't I vote this way when my personal experience informs me who will listen and learn and who will not?  If they don't listen, learn and communicate, then they are not showing me any proof that they will be able to handle decisions as my representatives on my behalf.

Greenfield handles difficult questions well and clearly is working very hard to be competent in the extremely wide range of topics a Senator needs to be conversant in.  Meanwhile, Joni Ernst continues to display an inability to acquire accurate and useful knowledge to inform her in her job.  She's had six years to improve on this - and she has not.  Why would I want to vote for someone who does not appear to be able to improve performance with experience?

So - yes - some of the expected civic leave was to be involved as I saw fit in the upcoming election.  And there you have it.  I encourage you to be a thoughtful, informed and open-minded voter who looks for the best people to do the jobs that are out there - each and every time we have an election.  I encourage you to cut through the garbage and find the truth.

But, I am not always so "typical" in how I do things. 

A Different Kind of Civic Leave

Elections or not - the world rolls on - and there are needs to be met.  And, I am not an organizer or activist...  I can tell you clearly why I am voting the way I am (I could write so much more than I show above).  I can also have a decent conversation with you about such things.  But, Tammy and I don't quite fit in with the typical 'civic leave' idea that I suspect most people would be thinking about right now.

Instead, we donated blood.  We went to help a friend do some repair work that had been delayed due to the derecho storm.  We helped to teach some students how to use Excel.  We tried to use a little time to remind family and friends that we still care about them.  We made adjustments in our life to respond to issues other people were having and we tried to do so with minimal complaint (ok, we might have complained to each other more than we should have).  We made sure to deliver our votes well in advance of the deadlines to hopefully reduce some of the crush workers were going to go through as they do their best to rapidly count.  We continued to be cautious and careful, minimizing our contact with others in the hopes that we would not be part of the problem that is the pandemic.  We took the time to order from a local bookstore rather than taking the "easy route" and ordering from a national chain.

It isn't much.  But, it is something.  

Add your something to it and we have something more.

If enough of us add something more to the mix and we'll be surprised by the differences we collectively make.


  1. Points well made! Perhaps we needed this earlier, before many of us have used the privilege of "early voting."

    1. Perhaps that is true. but, this assumes that I actually know what day it is... That, and I am not always certain that it is my place to beat on these drums (so to speak). But, perhaps it is and it was my mistake not to be more direct earlier - though I suspect there is plenty of indirect material prior. Feedback always appreciated.


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