As the Fair approaches, the issue has not subsided: Last night opponents to elephant rides at the fair (citing concerns of public safety and animal abuse) spoke at the Grass Valley City Council meeting, asking the council to advise the fair to reconsider.
One said she lived in Nevada City, and two said they lived in Grass Valley.
The Council took no action; the issue was not on the agenda. They deferred to the City Administrator, who suggested that the issue was not in their bailiwick.
Last week opponents to the elephant rides held a public meeting at the Holbrooke Hotel in downtown Grass Valley to discuss elephant abuse. It was well attended and reported.
This is another example of a theme we’ve identified here since 2009: How “democracy in small towns” is changing our community — politically, economically and culturally.
Social media is accelerating the process: On Facebook, blogs and other social medium.
As we’ve written before: The traditional economic power centers in our small towns — or the “old order” — is increasingly being challenged by many younger people who are more attuned to a younger generation and who want a greater say for more people in civic processes.
They complain about unresponsive government, groups that value status quo over change and oligarchic decision-making. In short, they worry civic leadership has long been concentrated in too few hands.
“We need to learn how to share power,” is their mantra. They favor a respect for diversity and collective leadership — not “command and control” leadership.
Local election results have pointed to the change: In short we are becoming more “purple” in our county. It is indisputable. Grass Valley elected a progressive to be its supervisor. In Truckee a moderate Democrat replaced a moderate Republican.
Candidates supported by the tea party have been soundly defeated.
Our county’s voters supported Proposition 8 — the same-sex marriage initiative in November 2009 — by just three votes.
Now the elephant rides at the fair are winding up as an issue testing “democracy in our small town.” To be sure, the fair probably figured the elephant rides would be a fun way to celebrate the “Under the Big Top” theme of the fair.
But they underestimated the groundswell of protest — and the “democracy of small towns” theme we regularly write about.
The issue will likely spill into local politics, as it often does. “Elephants never forget,” and neither do people when it comes to positions they are passionate about.