Community Involvement

Concord Town Meeting In Progress
The Concord Visitor Center Building
The Minute Man Weather Vane Nanae Japan 11/3/2017

Town Meeting, Committee Work, and a Welcoming Community 

Town Meeting is a key to community engagement  for me. It is a manifestation of the responsibility we have as citizens to create and maintain our community.  Through Town Meeting and the process that leads up to it, we as citizens have the opportunity, and in my opinion the obligation, to become informed and to deliberate on all the issues.  At Town Meeting we are required to engage in respectful, constructive dialogue, settle the issues at hand and move on to the next question.

I served on the Concord Finance Committee for two terms from 2003 to 2010.  I was recruited to serve as a result of my involvement with the Build Thoreau Committee, a parent group that organized to advocate for the use of the old Alcott School  as swing space during the reconstruction of the Thoreau School.  As Chair of the Finance Committee I learned the importance of  the process, communication, collaboration, and negotiation leading up to Town Meeting.  It is always the case that resources are limited and that tension exists between different important goals.  Serving on the Finance Committee reinforced my belief that engagement in dialogue is the way to find a good path forward in the face of whatever constraints may exist. 

From 2011 to 2020, I was employed by the Town as Chief Information Officer. Because of that role I was necessarily less active as a citizen volunteer.  For more on that, please see my professional experience page.

I returned to citizen volunteer work in 2021 serving as the chairperson for the Fiber Broadband Completion Task Force.   The Task Force was charged with the responsibility to study and make recommendations on the feasibility of completing Concord's municipal fiber optic network so that it reaches all residents.  In the course of just under a year, we established a practical roadmap which points the way forward. For all the details on that specific issues please see the Task Force's webpage on the Town's website.  

The relevance to how I would conduct myself as a Select Board member is as follows: Citizen petition efforts and Task Forces can both make effective and important contributions to our community dialogue.  They engage us in issues that can sometimes be overlooked by the standing committees and workgroups. They enable additional community resources to be deployed in a focused way for a finite period. I see the Energy Futures Task force and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission as other examples of this. I see it as a responsibility of the Select Board to work to incorporate the results of such efforts into the mainstream via the annual processes that set goals and fund budgets.   

The photos on this page reflect some other aspects I hold dear and would inform my approach to serving on the Select Board.  We are called to welcome both the visitor and new citizens to our community. The Visitor Center is just one way to demonstrate a willingness to share who we are with others.   The Minute Man Weathervane was dedicated in the City of Nanae Japan on November 3, 2017 which was the twentieth anniversary of our sister city relationship. I was honored to represent Concord as a member of the delegation that traveled to Nanae for this celebration.   It is a reminder to me  that the global perspective of our actions should also be considered.    

Produced by the Committee to Elect Mark Howell, 2023