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Turn off the TV, put up lights

My children can’t drive by Dale Ryan and Dyanah Musgrave’s home on Fifth Street without a smile and a request to stop at the “candy cane house.” Most are aware that this year Ryan had to start early to set up his amazing light show as part of preparation for a national TV show that was recognizing his particular and unique contribution to our community.

Much of the time Ryan was out on his roof putting up light set after light set, I was at home reading about, listening to and wringing my hands over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Available to each of us was 24-7 cable news show analysts’ commenting about presidential options. If that wasn’t your preference, there was the new 24-7 news through Facebook and Twitter.

Did this truly improve my education or make me feel very good? No. Sure I may have gathered some information, but the majority of it was news media finding 20 different ways to tell the same story. They rehash the same information over and over. Can the percentage of millennials who may or may not show up to the polls in North Carolina really affect my life or how I should vote? And as I spent all this time and mental energy on something I had little to no impact to change, my frustration with the decision and the process just grew.

I was months into my worrying when my voting guide finally arrived. Sure enough, Trump and Clinton made a cameo appearance, but the book was mostly full of information about six questions I would have to vote on. I read the arguments for and against those questions, looked up a few things and then made my decision.

In total, I probably spent one-tenth to one-hundredth of the time on those questions as I did on the presidential decisions, and I would argue that those six decisions may have more impact on my life. While some would disagree, you cannot argue that my vote didn’t have more impact on those local decisions than it did on the presidential decision.

Many are critical of Randy Schams’ development throughout the city, me included. But you can’t argue with his political success. Tear down the hospital? He won. Rezone the trailer park? He won. Get the city to consider Boulder Highlands? He won. His record is not perfect, but why does he usually win? Is he meeting local politicians in back alleys with free bubble gum? I don’t think so. Rather he gets involved locally and focuses his time and effort on where he can have the most impact.

When I was spending my time watching or reading the national news, Schams and Ryan were out making news locally.

So what about you? Do you find yourself spending hours watching cable news anchors or reading Facebook posts that rehash or relook at information that you could read in about five minutes? Does this focus on things you have little to or no impact to change only grow your frustration?

If so, join me in my resolution this year to be more like Schams and Ryan. Turn off CNN, Fox News or MSNBC and turn on BCTV, or better yet, do something: Join a city committee, volunteer at the library, fight for the local decisions you feel are important, or put up a million Christmas lights on your home.

Doing this may not make you feel better about national politics, but it will make our community and your life better. Or at least when my children’s eyes are filled with light, both out and in, as Ryan hands them their yearly candy cane, he makes my life better.

Nathaniel Kaey Gee resides in Boulder City with his wife and six kids. He is a civil engineer by day and enjoys writing any chance he gets. You can follow his work on his blog www.thegeebrothers.com.

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