Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Cultural Exchange Proposal for Brunswick

Brunswick has a cultural exchange agreement in place with a sister city in Cuba by the name of Trinidad.  Dance, food, and all sorts of other inspirations come from this arrangement.  We’re hoping, naturally, that Trinidad hasn’t been labeled “business unfriendly” because of its ties with our town.

Other Side has virtually no experience with anything Cuban, and in particular, its governance, which we suspect is not particularly democratic or participatory.

We are, however, familiar with Japanese society, having done business there in the past.  And there is no more civil, formal, gracious, or polite culture to our way of thinking.

We’ve worked hard to maintain contacts there, and in more recent years, have exchanged thoughts and concerns on local governance with our counterparts in the small northeastern Japanese village of Kabuki.  Our revered contact has been gracious enough to forward video from several of their governing council meetings, and it’s remarkable how dignified and dramatic their deliberations are. 

In this particular clip, the council is debating the budget and related tax rates for the coming fiscal year, just as we are.

As he explains it, the seated group at stage right is the governing council, while the three individuals center stage are the library director, the school superintendent, and the downtown association chairman. Seated midway between the two are the village manager and the village clerk. 

The character who scurries across the back of the stage is the finance director, who knows he needs to be there to be helpful, but is fearful of being whacked with one of the dueling sticks.

Towards the end of the discussion, the three advocates reach harmony on budget allocations, and celebrate with a traditional dance ritual.

In this next clip, the school board chairperson and the head of the library board of directors discuss who has the greater commitment to the wellbeing of village children.

Here, traditions and the desire for the greatest respect run much deeper, and the pursuit of village primacy is all important, so the drama of the deliberations is remarkable.

It’s obvious that the creative aspects of their village culture eclipse anything seen in Brunswick in recent years.  Notably, their council chambers are multi-use, allowing for a variety of theatrical endeavors besides the political variety.  My friend tells me that last year a play called “The Sushi Monologues” ran for several weeks in the same setting.

Inspiration is everywhere in this global society; Brunswick officials should know that Side is ready and able to undertake a multi-week cultural exchange mission (at town expense) in the name of multi-culturalism.

We’re confident that once Kabuki village elders see video of our budget meetings, they’ll be amazed at the similarity to theirs, albeit with somewhat less elaborate costumes and decor.

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