Column: The challenges of being an informed resident

By Pam Pommer

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I love the bi-monthly Bloomington Briefing. It contains interesting articles as well as information about things we need to know to be a responsible, informed resident.

I consider the layout to be attractive, and it’s easy to find subjects I want to read about and skip ones that aren’t of interest or importance (usually sports).

Last spring, the city asked people to rate what readers thought about the Briefing and where they get their information about the city.

Ninety-three percent said they got their information about Bloomington through the Bloomington Briefing.

Eighty-five percent thought the Briefing was valuable.

Eighty-one percent said they preferred to get the Briefing in print.

The features of most interest included:

  • Parks & Rec and the Arts: 83 percent
  • Development updated: 81 percent
  • Upcoming events: 81 percent
  • Recycling & environment: 75 percent

Although 75 percent is a decent amount of interest, I was surprised it wasn’t higher for recycling considering the fact that Bloomington just went through a major change in trash collection. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems with the switch to “organized” collection was the lack of consistent, accurate or timely information. I think the problems came about when trying to negotiate with six haulers and come to a consensus on how the new system would work.

While the reported ratings of the survey gave the Briefing high marks, it was deeply disturbing that of the 38,000 household and 5,000 businesses that the Briefing is delivered to, only 140 took the time to respond.

No doubt more people read the Briefing than is reflected in the small number who took the survey. But far too many people have no interest in being informed about their community. Some of it is cynicism. “The government doesn’t care about us, why should we care about them?” “It’s all a scam; they’re just in it for their own interests.” While some of that might be true, that is even more reason to be informed and get involved.

Yes, we are all busy and have lots of demands on our time. Yet, each day many of us manage to find plenty of time to text friends about basically nothing, play Candy Crush on Facebook, watch dozens of cute pet videos (guilty) and take all kinds of other relatively worthless surveys. A recent Time magazine included a survey that asked “What does your state hate?” The totally useless answers included: California: fidget spinners, Iowa: long hair on guys, Pennsylvania: money clips, etc. Seriously? People actually take time for these surveys?

I’m often amazed how many people have no idea who represents them in the city council, who makes up the city’s executive staff or where to call for various community issues. Guess what? Even if you don’t have access to that information on the Internet, the Briefing conveniently provides all this and even has a handy section you can cut out for most frequently called city phone numbers. It also provides important information as the new “organized garbage and recycling” system settles in.

And did you know there was a primary election on Aug. 8? Did you know who was running? Did you know where to vote? The Briefing, and of course the Sun Current, provided all that information as well.

For those who are reading this column, I’m obviously preaching to the choir. But the next time you talk to a friend or neighbor, tell them how much you enjoy keeping up on current events and knowing what’s going on in your city and who’s making the decisions.

Every other month, you get a resource delivered right to your mailbox. And if you’ve signed up for the Sun Current, that too is now delivered through the U.S. mail. I was delighted to get my first issue today (a week late, being they were behind in entering subscribers).

Bloomington is a great city. I should know. I’ve lived here more than 60 years. I want to know the good things that are happening and as well as things that need improvement. So encourage your neighbors to read the Briefing and to also sign up for convenient mail delivery of the Sun Current.

 

Pam Pommer, a graduate of Lincoln Senior High School, lives in Bloomington, where she enjoys gardening and spending time with her shelties.