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Food at the Polls?


March 1, 2019

Jane Radocchia
Food at the polls? Why? You're there to vote, not eat. We Rotarians know why. We meet every week over food. We don't just have a talk or a meeting, we share a meal. We talk together over food.

Rotarians build good will and friendship one meal at a time. Our name tags, fines for cell phones, mixed gender tables, Happy Dollars, are secondary to the food in helping us get to know each other.

We who are citizens in Bennington need these opportunities in our civic life. Bennington uses the Australian ballot. This means Town Meeting is quite perfunctory, not a place where we labor together; the community does not show up. Instead we come to the polls the next day to vote.

In the Massachusetts and New Hampshire communities where I lived before I moved to Bennington 20 years ago Town Meeting was us discussing, agreeing, disagreeing, considering, listening, finally voting. At the end we knew had done our job for our town, all of us together. I miss that sense of accomplishment.

That we can and do vote, make important decisions for our town is a cause for celebration. However, in Bennington there's none. Maybe a little drama when you walk past people with signs into the polling place. Then you greet the poll workers, give your name, pick up your ballot, mark it, slide it into the box. Maybe get a little sticker that says, "I voted". Done. The end. Food used to be available at the polls. People met old friends, had conversations with those they only knew a little, even admired tables set up by non-profits – usually kids raising money for a project.

We Rotarians can start this again with coffee, tea, juice, donuts, cookies, fruit, vegetables – a reason to linger and build good will and better friendships for the whole town.

Author: Jane Radocchia
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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