Mark Miller: On the right track, but helping to do more
Pittsfield has a lot going for it, and I would like to continue the positive change we need as one of four city councilors at large beginning in January. I would come to the job as an outsider to elective office but not as a stranger to public service.
My grandfather, K.B. Miller, onetime proprietor of a grocery store on North Street, would be heartened by today's downtown renaissance. He was as community-minded as they come. My parents, Pete and Amy Bess Miller, set an example of service to Pittsfield and the Berkshires which I have tried to live by. My wife, Osneyda, as new to Pittsfield as she is to life in the United States, became a citizen several years ago and recently entered the local labor force. Our children, Donald and Miriam, fourth-generation Pittsfield Millers, are students in two of our public schools.
Over four decades I worked as reporter, photographer, columnist and editor on the old Berkshire Eagle and five daily and weekly newspapers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont, and for two international wire services. Since then I have worked for the Climate Crisis Coalition; in Pittsfield's schools as a tutor, substitute teacher, and translator/interpreter; and as a writer and educator in the field of worker-owned business and cooperative enterprise in this country and abroad.
Invaluable in all of this was earning a bachelor's degree in political science from Middlebury College, a master's in journalism from Columbia University, and an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass. So was taking six or eight courses at Berkshire Community College and teaching briefly there.
I want to put my many advantages to work for Pittsfield as a city councilor. I serve on Pittsfield's Green Commission and formerly did on the Historical Commission, the Noise Commission, and the Berkshire Athenaeum's board of trustees. On the City Council I would be directly accountable to the voters.
Pittsfield is on the right track. We have much to be proud of and hopeful about. But we are competing in a rapidly changing world and have to act accordingly.
Perhaps owing to a life in journalism, I tend not to tell people what they want to hear if they're looking for comforting news and thoughts. If I did, I wouldn't be constantly pointing out that the world's economy, including our nation's, is contracting -- mostly because of finite-resources depletion -- and that economic growth is essentially over. There will be less and less money in the system, not more. We all need to wake up to this physical and social reality.
I call myself future-oriented, reality-based, and waste-averse. Among those who have helped shape my thinking in public and private life are Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute; author James Howard Kunstler; Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity; Bill McKibben of 350.org; and Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. You can look them up.
I believe in participatory government and economics, and if elected will use my office to try to draw people in to the city conversation, to put their time and talents to work for the common good.
I'll be accessible, and not only by phone or email or on the street. Some will know me by the website through which I will try to keep everyone in the loop about Pittsfield, our government, our economy, and the overall environment in which we live. As far as I know, the website will be the first by an at large city councilor.
There's a world of good out there, and I'll seek out best practices in communities elsewhere that could be useful here. As my card puts it, I will "scour the world for workable models." In industry this is called "benchmarking." It can work for Pittsfield.
Pittsfield residents will get from me the truth as I see it, and hard work on and off the Council toward making Pittsfield the best possible place to live and work. If this sounds reasonable ...
... on Tuesday, Nov. 5, please vote to elect me, Mark Miller, one of your four councilors at large. Thank you.
Mark Miller is a candidate for Pittsfield City Council at large.
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