As 2019 winds down, here’s perhaps our most positive takeaway: in both Cambridge and Deerfield this year, we talked.

There have been no shortage of things to discuss in both communities, from fire and EMS funding in the Cambridge area, to clean-up of Cambridge’s former Melster Candies Co. site, to the best means of moving Main Streets and business in general in both communities forward, to promotion of the arts and support of schools.

There has been money to spend… and a lack of money to spend, this year. Either way, deciding how to best proceed has required more than social media posts, but rather, face to face conversation.

We are never more pleased than when community members fill village, town and school meetings, and respond to surveys and other request for feedback, stepping into the thick of conversations that involve their tax dollars and future of their small towns.

Sometimes, community engagement results in uncomfortable moments of truth like, like recently when many Cambridge residents reacted to what they felt was too high of a proposed price for a future Cambridge High School performing arts center.

Our view: that so many people shared in a school district survey their early concerns about the cost, rather than fuming over the winter and silently casting an April referendum ballot ‘no’, will ultimately be a positive thing. Now, the conversation has time to evolve, with the PAC task force able to refocus on a project more community residents can get behind.

Additionally, earlier this fall, we were pleased to see so many people attend a meeting in Christiana, hosted by global solar firm Invenergy. Regardless of viewslocal residents came into the meeting with, they took time to listen, kicking off an important community conversation.

We were also thrilled, last month, to see so many Cambridge business owners meet with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, to talk among other things about economic development. We see an abundance of positives, too, in this week’s first meeting of Cambridge’s reinstated Economic Development Committee. Its members are demonstrating a high level of motivation for moving all village business activity forward, including but not limited to businesses on Main Street.

And finally, this week, we were pleased to see so many community members pack a Deerfield meeting where officials were talking about a new Village Hall. It was clear from their comments that citizens recognize the limitations of the current building, but also place a great deal of value on parks and green space adjacent to parks, and they are concerned about the leaving yet another Main Street building vacant.

Those were uncomfortable thoughts Deerfield village officials needed to hear. Our prediction: that this week’s face-to-face feedback will drive at least in part the ongoing process. We have every indication that views shared this week will be reflected in upcoming village decisions.

Local elected officials often say they would like more community members to attend meetings, and to voice their opinions on issues of importance. This year, we’ve seen that happening.

Let’s keep talking, not just posting, and remain informed as we plunge forward into 2020.

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