Well here we are, the sacred space between the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the election. The crocus are blooming, yard signs are bountiful, forums have been swinging, meet-and-greets have been plenty, and even this issue of the Review is filled with the democracy of an election. Ordinary people have taken the plunge to be extraordinary leaders in our local government.

My husband is in school right now and, in his “Human Behavior in the Social Environment” class, he had the assignment to eat for one week on $6.47 a day. Our whole family plunged right in and each took our portion of the assignment for breakfast and lunch, then shared dinner and discussed. We all avoided wasteful purchases, focused on staples and learned to appreciate the experience of eating a little more. Since I enjoy cooking, already live with a budget, and have several tricks that are in our regular rotation, the experience was a practice of mindfulness and connecting my values to what gives me nourishment. 

The cost of convenience — the bag of chips from a “convenient store,” a specialty drink, a drive-thru meal, is priced for the ease of use, but not always nutritional value or satisfaction. It’s like a yard sign.

With the hope and rebirth that comes with spring we are experiencing the four-year hyper-engagement style of Forest Park politics. Each standard yard sign costs roughly $10, which is a convenient way to get a message out, but since a sign cannot vote, it is like that bag of chips. It looks good, is pricy, fun to have, but isn’t the most nourishing. 

Candidates are in the final stretch of pounding the pavement and reaching out to voters, knocking on doors, and going outside of their comfortable community of familiar faces and reaching out to talk to voters up and down the blocks. This is where the live conversation is the heart of democracy, the trust that builds a community. 

The experience of interacting with potential future leaders, is like eating and reflecting on the homemade hummus I have been delighting in. The sun, rain and farms that grew the garbanzo beans, lemon, garlic, and Italian olive oil; the people and industries that packaged them and transported them; the individuals who shelved and sold them; and the American and Italian workers who have different laws that govern the value of their labor is all part of the amazing narrative of flavor and nourishment. 

Our future leaders have a world of experiences and backgrounds that make them special, just like our food, and as voters we can reflect on how their unique assets can nudge our community in certain directions. So in the coming weeks as you make your final decisions on who you feel most confident in as a leader and whether they are the type to lift up others, or themselves; if they are thankful or need to be thanked; if they seem strong or weak; if they are secretive or open; if they are happy or bitter; and if they have the humanity to nourish our community by their choices. 

Whether or not you are a conscious participant in what you eat, and whether or not you participate in voting, I can assure you there will be food tomorrow, there will be government after the election, and the sun will make its way across the sky, whether or not you are mindful of it. 

So maybe you know a candidate because they were your soccer coach, they planted a tree in your parkway, were on the PTO with you or are a member of the Historical Society just like you are, or maybe you’ve never shared a community experience with them, these weeks are special days, so consider saying “hello” to a candidate. If you’re lucky, one may even show up at your doorstep. Maybe share some hummus, or a cookie, a glass of water. They need to know our community is kind and generous. I bet they already know we can be grouchy and persnickety.