Sunday, August 31, 2014

Because I care. Because good governance matters.

If you are reading this, you probably care about good governance too.  Of course, what is "good" in government will mean different things to different people...even to people in the same party.  Some Republicans believe that climate change is chiefly caused by human activity; others do not.  Some Democrats believe in supporting casino gambling or an income or sales tax; others do not.

So, it seems that no one will ever see a perfect world...or a perfect government...or a perfect candidate.  For many people, that realization causes them to simply "give up" on politics and civic engagement.  The evidence in political science research is pretty clear.  More than 20% of American adults who are eligible to vote are not registered.  Only 35% of eligible voters actually make it to the polls on a regular basis. The other 43% vote occasionally or rarely.

The most frequent reason given for not voting is that the person, "doesn't think it matters."
A friend of mine posted a meme on FaceBook that said, "When you skip voting, it's not rebellion; it's surrender." 

Don't vote because you feel guilty.  Vote because this is your government, your town, your state, and your country too.  Make your voice heard.  Even if you think no one is listening; I promise you that you will feel more hopeful than if you "sit it out."

On the flip side, is the fact that it takes so much money to run for office that it can hardly be claimed that we have a "representative" democracy.  In the US House, over half the Representatives are millionaires.  In New Hampshire where we pay our Representatives $100 per year, it is hard to imagine a working age person being able to serve in the NH Legislature without being independently wealthy.  Even running for little old Cheshire 14 can cost as much as $6,000 at 50 cents per voter...and most campaign guides suggest $1 to $2 per voter.   If you're not wealthy, you need to be a good fundraiser and be able to mobilize a grassroots effort of volunteers to get out the vote for you.

Money and power.  It sounds scary, but our saving grace is that even if you are rich and powerful; you still only get one vote.  People working together can make a difference.  Look at what happened with Market Basket this summer.  As one cashier said to me, "The Business Schools will be talking about this story for decades to come."  Little people stood together for the sake of one another and the future of the company.  Why can't we do the same thing with our government?

I believe we can.  I am asking for your vote and your help because I believe people who actually care about good and fair governance can get elected if they have the support of other people who care.

Whenever someone tells me (or I tell myself), "It will never happen.  People are too apathetic and discouraged to get involved," or that "All politicians lie to get elected," I think and talk about Granny D and her long, long 3,000 mile walk across America at the age of 89.  Her courage and determination in making a statement about the need for campaign finance reform is almost unimaginable to me.  In her 90th year, Granny D averaged 10 miles a day for almost a year.  She suffered from arthritis and emphysema, but she kept on going.  I've walked with the NHRebellion on 6 and 16 mile walks in memory of Granny D and felt the relentless pounding of the pavement in my back and hips...I marvel at her amazing spirit to do this day after day...and I draw inspiration from it.  Granny D just kept putting one foot in front of the other despite the weather, despite the terrain, despite the discouragement of foot in front of another until the job was done.  

What do I hope to accomplish if I'm elected to the Legislature?  My highest priority now and after I am elected is to listen to what the people of my district need and then to work hard to meet those needs. If I depend on the people of Cheshire 14 to help get me elected, I am depending on them even more to help me understand how I can help them once elected.  I believe a Representatives' primary role is listening, studying the issues,and being a voice for the people of the district in the legislature.

It will probably come as no surprise that I will also work hard to help New Hampshire move toward greater energy independence and sustainability.  My work on the Rindge Energy Commission has been both rewarding and frustrating.  While the States around us are encouraging renewable energy projects and weatherization, New Hampshire has lagged behind.  Much of the reason that we are behind is because of policy.  We joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but hobbled it's potential by artificially suppressing the price of Renewable Energy Credits and simply "passing money back" to ratepayers ( after an administrative cost!) instead of investing all of it in weatherization or renewable production. 

Another big concern I have is the emigration of our young people.  Nearly 60% of our high school graduates move out of state after graduation; the second highest rate of loss in the country.  The loss of our young people to better opportunity elsewhere makes New Hampshire the fourth oldest state in the country with an average age of 41.1 years.  NH is also last in the Nation in supporting public higher education.  Those are not attractive statistics for companies looking to hire young professionals for the industries of the future.

Anyone involved with community organizations also knows that engaging young people is an essential factor in keeping an organization alive and vital.  Without a constant influx of young people, even the most venerable of organizations will wither and die out.  Pretty soon no one at the meeting has the physical strength to set up the tables and chairs or to run the events that define them as an organization.

How can we secure greater opportunity for our young people and simultaneously grow our economy?  I truly welcome your ideas on this subject.

Also high on my list of concerns is our crumbling infrastructure.  The people of Fitzwilliam and Harrisville have been particularly impacted by State roads that have fallen into disrepair.  When can they expect some relief? 

Most of all, I hope that my candidacy will inspire people to look around them and figure out what they would like to see improved or changed and then support the candidates who are willing to help make those changes.  I hope people will turn out to vote.  And, I also hope that people will consider running for office themselves. 

Please feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns.  You can comment below or email me at Your ideas and challenging questions will help make me a better candidate and, with your support, a better Representative.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Donation/Support Request

Pat Martin for New Hampshire House of Representatives
17 Farrar Road
Rindge, NH 03461

There's an old African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."  I am writing to ask you to become part of my journey running for the NH House of Representatives.  I am running to support a progressive agenda in Concord and I want you to join me.  I also want my campaign to be about promoting greater citizen engagement and civility in our governance at both the State and local level. 
I have made many of my best friends through my volunteer work and advocacy. These friends are people who have staying power, vision, aspirations for their children, and a desire to live happy, healthy lives, surrounded by friends. It is the relationships with such people that make all the work worthwhile. I want my campaign to be as engaging, fun and rewarding as the volunteer work we have shared.
Some of you may have pulled back from politics because the tenor of the public dialog has become so hostile. I am asking you to please pitch in again. What stops bullying is having other people stand up and insist on civility. 
If you can afford a financial donation to my campaign, I will appreciate whatever you can comfortably give.  To those who have already contributed, thank you so much!  The seat I’m running for is currently held by Harry Young. Harry asked me to run when he decided he could not.  The District includes Rindge, Jaffrey, Fitzwilliam, Dublin, Harrisville and Roxbury, so I need to cover a lot of territory with yard signs, printed materials and ads.  Fortunately, I am able to campaign and share expenses with Dick Ames and Doug Ley whose seats also cover Jaffrey, Dublin, Harrisville and Roxbury.  I am very proud to run with Dick and Doug, who are serving their district with distinction. A donation of only $10 will purchase 3 yard signs or 100 rack cards.  Every little bit helps.
But I must be clear... Bill O'Brien wants to take this seat back and will work hard to achieve that.  Every seat he wins back is a vote for Bill O’Brien to return as Speaker.
Whether or not you are able to contribute financially, I also need your help spreading the word about this campaign: adopt a yard sign, go door to door with me in your neighborhood, and generally encourage people to come out to vote this mid-term. 
I have set up a separate checking account for the campaign in my name. If you do write a check, please put "campaign donation" in the memo line.  My phone number is 603-899-2894 and email address is   

Please contact me if you are willing to join me on my journey to the NH House.  In the words of Granny D, "Democracy is not something we have, it’s something we do.”  


Being able to accept help

One of the hardest lessons in life is learning to accept help.  I think until a person learns to do that, they can't really give back in the spirit of true generosity.
One of the greatest joys in life is being in a position where you have something that other people want.  It could be that you have a beautiful singing voice or a strong intellect.  Or, when someone is suffering, you have medical training and can make them feel better.  It IS validating to be able to offer something others value.
We know that our talents are valued because people come back for more or pay money for our efforts.  There is some kind of exchange...even if it is only applause. 
Sometimes, what we have to offer is very humble.  I'm thinking of people washing dishes at a community supper or baking a dessert for a meeting.  It might be a transitory gift...the dessert will be consumed and the dishes will be dirtied again at the next supper.  The work leaves no "legacy" except for the good feelings of a single night and the friendships that develop from working together.
I've met some of the most extraordinary people volunteering at these humble events.  Generals and doctors, poets and professors, artists and writers, Peace Corps volunteers and politicians all seem to do their share of humble jobs with great relish and good spirit.
For me, 90% of the enjoyment in life is about who is sharing it with me.   Rich or poor, talented or not, the quality of our life and our happiness is mostly determined by the people who surround us and how we feel about them.
When I attended New Hampshire Leadership, I remember hearing about a woman with multiple disabilities who summed it up perfectly for me, "I can live without vision and hearing.  I can live without arms or legs.  I can't live without friends."

When you are in the position of really, honestly needing help from others, it can have the opposite effect on your spirit.  Now, you are the person who wants something others have, and they don't value what you have to offer in exchange.  It can make you feel diminished and devalued.  You feel vulnerable.
The experience I had of this that stands out most clearly in my mind and, admittedly, is the least "personal" of the many times in my life when I needed help, was when I was a young airman assigned to the 509th Refueling Squadron at Pease Air Force Base in the 1970s.
I weighed about 125 pounds.  The equipment I worked with weighed anywhere from a few pounds to 130 pounds.  At that time, any equipment over 40 pounds was considered a "two man carry."  I could easily lift 40 pounds; so it shouldn't have posed any problem for me to do my job.
Unfortunately, the shops were often short staffed and overworked; so many of the guys ignored the weight limit and would carry equipment weighing up to 90 pounds by themselves.  The guy who trained me had already had one hernia operation by the time I came along.
There were some very nice guys in the shops and when they would see me struggling to move equipment from the bench to a cart to go out to the flight line, they would hurry over and give me a hand.  I appreciated it from the bottom of my heart, but I also felt a little "diminished" by always being the one who needed help.
And that is where things got tricky.
All through tech school, I had a few instructors who told me I wouldn't be able to do the job.  Academically, I was at the top of the class, but these instructors thought I was just too small.  But, I would look around and see  a few guys who weren't necessarily much bigger than I was.  I would think to myself, that the Air Force didn't assign us to be electronic technicians because we were big and burly.  They picked us for that job because we were smart.
So, how to react?  Should I complain that people were violating the rules for weight limits?  I was pretty sure that "playing the victim" wasn't the way to go.  I might "win the battle, but lose the war."
And, I didn't want to seem ungrateful for the obvious kindness my colleagues were showing me.
My boss's hernia got me thinking.  Although these guys could lift this heavy equipment, they were also hurting themselves in the process.   And while some of the guys rushed over to help me; they weren't rushing over to help each other.
So, I started doing it.
True, I couldn't lift it for them; but I could help carry the load.  When any of them protested that they could do it themselves I would tell them that they were doing me a favor by letting me help because then I wouldn't feel so bad when they had to help me.
It all worked out perfectly.  I was much happier in my work and I think the guys got a big kick out of me.  They earned my gratitude twice over; once for helping me and a second time for allowing me to help them.  I think I was a pretty decent technician too.  It would have been a shame to have missed out on the fun of doing all the things I was good at because I was feeling bad about the one thing I really couldn't do by myself.
I sometimes think how different it would have been if I refused the help and hurt myself or had to quit.
Not everything in life has to be "quid pro quo."  Sometimes, we just pay it forward in gratitude for the many times others helped us and sometimes we have to be humble enough to accept the help we need so we can get to a place where we can give too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Too funny!

This post is kind of an "inside joke."  My friends and family will humor me, as usual.
I like to write.  I do a lot of it.  I'm not necessarily very good at it, but I find it very satisfying and good practice for those times when I absolutely must put my thoughts down on paper for a  proposal (RFP) or a little speech.  I also find it helps me keep things in perspective.
I post a lot on FaceBook too.  It's the right kind of "casual" so that I can just be myself.  I share what seems like the "best" and most interesting stuff I come across in my newsfeed.  I also share a lot of jokes, photos, videos and wise sayings from my friends. 
When people talk about the NSA spying on us, I must confess I get a chuckle over imagining the poor NSA spy who would have to pore over my little adventures, ramblings and stream of consciousness writings.  ( Have you ever seen the "South Park" episode on the NSA? lol!)  I only hope they offer them a health insurance policy with good mental health coverage.
Not that NSA spying isn't a serious least on a theoretical level.  I think the reality is more like looking for needles in a very, very, ginormously huge, haystack of banality and trivia.  Still I object to it on the basis of violating our privacy and being extremely wasteful of taxpayer dollars.
But discovering that people, not in the Government, are doing that same thing in order to find some "dirt" on you, brings the hilarity of someone wasting their lives that way to a whole other level.
Have you ever seen that movie, "Defending Your Life?'  It came out in the 80s and made a big impression on me.  It is really worth watching.
Can you imagine coming to the end of your days and looking back on your life only to see yourself scrolling madly through some stranger's timeline in order to find them looking foolish or being negative in some way?   It makes me shudder to even think of wasting my life on such a thing. 
Because I am campaigning for public office, people are free to say what they want about me.  It doesn't even have to be true.  Sure, I could sue if I can prove damages, but running for an office that only pays $100 per year isn't going to be attracting lawyers working for a contingency fee.  My friends warned me about this and have worried that someone might try to assassinate my character with lies or half-truths just before the election when I won't be able to answer their charges.
If it happens that way; it happens.
I want to win this election.  I really do.  BUT, I'm not going to "sell my soul" or spend one single moment feeling miserable because not everyone likes me.  I'm not going to get mired in a war of words with people who hide their identities.  Spending energy on that means I might miss out on the opportunity to meet potential constituents.  I really want to find out what the District 14 constituents think are the important issues for New Hampshire.   Anything else is just a distraction.
I am truly enjoying the experience of campaigning.  I want people to know that it is a pleasure to learn about the towns in the district.   It is very interesting to see how each town tackles its challenges and celebrates its history and accomplishments.
I also want to give other people the courage to volunteer or run for public office.  Most of it is interesting and fun.  It really "stretches" you as a person.  Even the negative stuff can help make you stronger if you don't let it get to you. 
And then, of course... "There's no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." ~Brendan Behan  So perhaps I should be thanking the folks mining my blog and facebook posts and reposting what I've written?   Write on!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Discussing "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart

Wow!  Thanks to David for suggesting this book...even if it was terribly disturbing to me.  I am SO sorry that I'm going to miss the book discussion on Monday.  I would love to hear other people's reactions to the book.
"Earth Abides" is the story of Isherwood Williams, a young geologist who survives a pandemic of a virus that wipes out all but a tiny percentage of the world's people. 
I was really troubled by Ish's failure to teach the children to read and write.  If you want a generation to wind up enslaved; give up on education.  I don't recall Ish ever talking about reading to the children.  I  learned to read by being read to by my parents and older siblings.  As long as the people can read and write, they will be able to stand on the shoulders of those who came before.
Maybe getting the power plants up and running again was an impossible task, but the libraries were RIGHT THERE! 
I thought Ish had a fairly low opinion of the people around him too.  His fixation on Joey tells me that he was a lousy teacher.  A good teacher uncovers the potential in each student.  I think we've all sat in classrooms with a teacher who had a "pet" with all the answers.  Those situations left me feeling hopeless.
I disliked Ish when he actually considered the possibility of "living like a king" on the backs of that little group of black farmers.
I found his attitude toward women also very condescending.
A little of the "eugenics" theory of that era is also reflected in Ish's attitude toward Evie.
I suppose "Earth Abides" reflects the thinking of the time.  Maybe Geroge R. Stewart didn't intend for Ish to be so much a real "hero" as a cautionary tale of what happens when you don't respect the people around you enough to see them as equals?
Otherwise, despite our iPads, networks, satellites, etc, we would find ourselves very much in Ish's post apocalyptic world with even more useless technology.  I found that scenario very believable and frightening.  I wanted to root for Ish and the others to find some utopian world, but in the the end, I thought he was self-absorbed and foolish for missing his chance to teach the next generation to read and value knowledge.  Reading this book during the Ebola Crisis, was kind of eerie.