Burnout and Local Politics, the Difficulty in Getting People to Volunteer in Newburyport, MassachusettsJanuary 24th, 2006
There are many people who get involved in local politics and issues in Newburyport and many of them end up getting burned out or disillusioned.
There are two very good examples illustrating this point in two recent publications.
Jim Roy wrote an article in the Newburyport Current called “A “Great” City?” in which he expresses his frustrations and laments, among other things, about how difficult it is to get people to volunteer in Newburyport. Possibly my favorite line was, “trying to get that historic district going? Lots of luck, Mr. Solo.”
This sparked a very impassioned Letter to the Editor in the following issue of the Current expressing outrage at Mr. Roy’s article.
The letter implied that Jim Roy has little appreciation of what it is like to volunteer in Newburyport. For the record, Jim Roy has volunteered for C’10, the Newburyport Traffic Committee, the successful effort to bury the power lines across the Merrimac River, involvement in Newburyport’s water front, helping to save High Street and volunteering for a variety of political campaigns. These are just a few of the projects that Jim Roy has been involved with over the years.
So, yes, I think I can safely say that Jim Roy knows a little about volunteering in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Mr. Roy’s diatribe may be inflammatory, but I understand his frustrations.
Too many events fall on the shoulder of one or two individuals. And then when the project is completed, instead of an outpouring of praise for hard work well done, there is usually a great deal of criticism, often very harsh, for a project that has taken countless hours and, often years to accomplish.
Another example is the response to Gary Roberts article in The Undertoad on January 6th discussing, among other things, the complications surrounding the entrance to the Atkinson Common on Plummer Avenue.
A Letter to the Editor in the following issue takes Mr. Roberts to task for misspelling “Belleville” instead of thanking Mr. Roberts for taking an interest and trying to help the project. I’m afraid that my experience over the years has been that a letter like this is all too typical of the attitude of many people in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
There are literally hundreds of stories about how hard working volunteers in Newburyport are disparaged and very often viscously criticize for the work that they do.
I don’t know if this will ever change and it is certainly one of the reasons why we are often referred to as “Cannibal City.”
It would be nice, however, but probably naïve, to think that the first thought in seeing a project completed or being worked on would be, “I may not agree with the outcome, but I certainly appreciate all the work that has gone into it. If I don’t like it I won’t whine, lambaste and complain. Instead I’ll appreciate the effort and maybe next time I’ll even get involved myself.”
Mary Eaton, Newburyport