As an undergraduate, I admired the extent to which my primary faculty mentor was involved with local organizations. Perhaps because of this, my own goals for faculty life include developing relationships in both the campus and broader communities. Like any relationship, though, it seems that these connections cannot be forced. Rather, they develop as one takes advantage of available opportunities, leading to more opportunities and larger roles in the future.
Over the summer, I took advantage of my first opportunity to become involved in local government by responding to a campus-wide call for interested parties that fell within my area of interest. At the first meeting, which took place in an auditorium, I was struck by the “Parks and Recreation” feel of a public forum. At the second meeting I was struck by the ability of local government to move swiftly, based on the fact that things had actually happened since the first meeting. This is in direct contrast to my experience on collaborative academic projects, which tend to move at a glacial pace.
Depending on how official the sign-up sheet that I wrote my name on was, I am officially on a local government subcommittee. While this will surely take away from the time that I have to spend on other things, I hope that it is time well spent.