What happens when you ask people to ignore the big news cycle and look close to your home/town? A very meaningful conversation occurs, with over 40 participants, about where our tax dollars are going, how our children’s needs are getting addressed in local school systems and above all, how can we have a voice in this multiracial community as an Indian American, or as IAGB likes to call it, initiation of “coupling”.
In a discussion that started by looking back at the history and timeline of one of the major new housing development projects (that has put Indian American community in the middle of rising population in metro west), the lessons were shared and a hope to create new paths for similar such initiatives was desired by one and all. And all of this urges the Indian American community to get right at the center of the “decision making” process.
A panel, carefully selected, to take a deep dive on tax issues, to address the fact that this community has a huge population that always has some or other excuse (justified or not) for not participating in local governance, to finally have someone (and an organization) that is ready to take this baton of getting Indian Americans involved in the decision making process at local level. This group was also chosen to represent the two key forms of town governance, namely open and representative. The overall theme represented how our community can successfully collaborate internally first and externally later to form a cohesive bond of people and make its presence felt.
Among many other topics covered from how best to participate in your own town governance to getting tax payers of Indian origins with no current voting rights (people on visa), attendees were also keen to know more about how best to be involved with town and how can they actively play a role in those decision makings. A lot of enthusiasm was shared across topics like how the school budget is decided and how commercial taxes (in this case new residential development) help the town keep personal taxes low. How much time a person needs to take out to be actively involved in town garnered a lot of responses and interests both from the panelists and the participants.
An engaging discussion took place on the fact that as a community, Indian Americans, are clearly lacking in bringing their strength to the table. This has been a recurring theme whether it is a local election or an election for State or Federal government.
A grass root movement (“Coupling”) at local town level was picked up as a best stepping stone to create a larger and cohesive presence of community.