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Short Story: "Engaging Constituency" (7th/Last of a series)

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"What is?"

He pointed at the screen. "That is: candidates for office. That's not the way this is supposed to work. Those are people who want the job."

"So you want to say something about it?"

Norman and Natalie looked on as Kendrik nodded solemnly.

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The facilitator texted something and waited for a reply. When the speaker had finished the introductions, he noted that several people had been queued up to talk, and handed off to the first of them. The facilitator faced Kendrik squarely, and a moment later, the stream from his Glass filled the big screen.

"There's something wrong about this," he began. "If leadership is supposed to be a dynamic thing, like the Wobblies said, then why are we choosing between people who actually want to be in charge? Shouldn't our new city council rep be someone who fills that role simply because it needs to be done? I mean, what are we doing here? This is supposed to be a GA. When we retook the Occupy site, we didn't have a leader. Nobody was in charge. We all just pitched in and it happened."

There was a brief murmur, and then another face from the crowd filled the screen. "What are you suggesting, then?"

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Kendrik stared at the facilitator for a time, not even noticing that he was on camera. "I'm not suggesting anything. I don't know what the right thing to do is, only that this doesn't seem to be it."

The tech organizer's face then filled the screen. "Look, we've already started down this road. We've invested time and effort into holding an election today. Shouldn't we go through with it, if only so we can fill that seat on the city council?"

The silence that followed was ended when someone called out, "The kid's right! This guy wants the job!"

Again the feed shifted, this time to a woman in pink overalls. Norman recognized her as the woman who had helped Buster Flange to stump for changing the city charter, and mouthed her name. "Althea Gordon."

"I was part of the flash mob that resurrected Occupy's encampment after the arrests," she said, "and I agree with K2 that we may be going at this the wrong way. But I have an idea that might help. What we need right now is for someone here to speak for the rest of us at City Hall. Not someone to be in charge. Not someone to be a leader of this community in any traditional sense -- just someone to speak for us, to speak for all of us. That means someone who is not engaged in any of the many activist causes and social needs that have brought us all together in one community.'

Althea gazed at the crowd for a moment before continuing. "I'm an artist," she said at last. "I work in metal. And if there's one thing I've learned from that, it's this: the idea that inspires my work is not in any single piece of scrap that goes into it. It's what all of it together means to the person looking at it. The person we need to speak for us at city hall is that kind of person -- someone who embodies the ideas that have brought us together today."

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*   *   *

The city council chamber was packed. This was the first meeting after the big GA, which meant it was also the first meeting at which there was one additional member than there had been before. Norman sat with Kendrik and Althea Gordon in the visitor section at the back of the room.

"The last time I sat here," she said wryly, "I nearly got arrested. Again."

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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