The follow letter to the editor was published in the Danvile Register and Bee on February 7, 2011.
I write today to inform you and your readership about an awesome, smallscale event that I took part in on Feb. 1.
Representatives from our local chapter of Virginia Organizing and a handful of supporting members from the Charlottesville chapter — eight people in all — met with our newly installed congressman, Robert Hurt, in a conference room near his office at 308 Craghead St.
Virginia Organizing, for those who don’t know, is a statewide nonprofit and nonpartisan organization committed to localized grassroots community-building, with the intention of empowering Virginians at the individual and community level to participate in our democratic system and have a real impact upon our society. They are known statewide for their voter registration efforts, and for working on issues that affect underprivileged communities.
When I attended college inWilliamsburg, I became involved with their local chapter, which at the time was working to advocate for a living wage for all employed persons and for the availability of much-needed lower-income housing.
What impressed me about the meeting with Rep. Hurt was the effortlessness way with which everyone present communicated themselves and their respective beliefs.
I witnessed people of various socioeconomic statuses, racial identifications and political orientations share a direct and entirely respectful conversation about issues that are of great concern, which did not shy away from points of disagreement. In this room — despite our disparate degrees of power within the economic and political arena — we were truly equals, and mutually recognized one another as such.We covered a wide range of ground, including healthcare reform, unemployment and the future of economic development in the Fifth District, and we did it all in under 40 minutes.
Many people here in Danville talk about wanting to see things change, but far fewer take the time out of their busy schedules to do the work that is necessary to improve our condition.When we meet with our elected officials to share of our experiences — in uncompromising honesty — and we shake hands, and we all look each other in the eye, we are boldly moving toward a better tomorrow. As a congressman, Hurt will never be able to agree with every one of his constituents, nor should we expect that of him. He would not be useful if he were agreeable to the point of total passivity.
However, as native son and lifetime community member of Pittsylvania County and Danville, he is regularly available to us to talk about issues that we find to be important. In his own words, he stressed to us that he is dedicated to maintaining close ties to all facets of our community, so that he will maximize his ability to represent us in our nation’s Capitol.
Indeed, we witnessed this commitment in-action on Feb. 1. He agreed to meet with us again in the near future and even thanked us for taking the initiative to contact him.
I encourage every member of the community to contact Rep. Hurt and our other representatives to tell them about the realities we are experiencing in this hard economic time. For, it is only through direct and open communication that we can hope to help our leaders spearhead us toward a happier and more prosperous future.