What makes Bainbridge special? Resourcefulness | Our Opinion | Sept. 16

One could argue that Bainbridge has grown increasingly schismatic since the island became a city some 20 years ago, and some believe the culprit is the government itself. Others want to blame the current economic downslide since things seemed to be going swimmingly until a few years ago when the city’s real estate-based income dropped precipitously almost overnight. Or maybe we just have too many lawyers.

Or it could be that a doubling of the community’s population during that time is most responsible for it evolving from a loosely defined, church-oriented leadership into a more rigid, electoral governance that is expected to lead us toward consensus regarding what’s important to us. And what is that?

There are some easy answers, such as keeping the outside world at bay by prohibiting the retail-chain explosion that’s happened off island. Or ensuring that there is a balance between development and preservation. There’s no doubt we think this place is unique, maybe even magical, and we have to ensure it doesn’t crossover, even though about one-third of the island’s adults do exactly that five days a week on ferry boats.

But, as we all should know, democracy is slipshod in practice and just because we elect officials it doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing, unless of course they are the four (in any council) who have the most votes and believe that makes them unerring, all-knowing and convinced they know what’s best for all of us. So, is that consensus?

Maybe somewhere, but not here where plenty of people are smart enough to know when a public process has real integrity and isn’t just a democratic facade, such as Winslow Tomorrow. What really makes Bainbridge special is when someone’s vision leads to genuine, grassroots involvement by the community. Generally, it’s best when politics aren’t involved and people see it for what it is – a gift from one islander to another that snowballs until it becomes us. Anyway, that’s what an oldtimer will tell you.

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