From the always perceptive and blessedly succinct Curly:
Volunteerism is important for this community, and such service needs to be honored. But giving without grace only diminishes the effect, and no matter how hard the work becomes the thing people remember most.
From our faithful friend Anonymous, who obviously has a taste for historical accuracy (as well as parenthetical remarks):
Do any of you remember the accusatory tone taken by those who volunteer excessively in town against those who don't (I believe this was in the aftermath of the DSP workshops and during the subsequent Measure V campaign)? That somehow, by virtue of their volunteer status, their opinions should carry more weight in city decisions than those of people who are not so intimately involved in the convoluted city processes (regardless of how the rest of the city residents felt about something)? Most of those "volunteers" behave like they belong to an exclusive club - not one, by the way, I would wish to join.
From the always welcome good Doctor:
...I can think of a few volunteers who were "uninvited" to volunteer. Some committees were disbanded and some of the efforts halted because the Powers did not like the outcome of the volunteer efforts and also, in some cases, did not like some of the volunteers. So it's a badge that's really a misnomer. It's not about volunteering, it's about being included in the Power structure.
Thus in the hands of the Downtown Investors Club, in the clutches of the development realty consortium, volunteering loses it's most salient characteristic: to give without expectation of any return. It is not a quid pro quo kind of deal, unless the something you get back is deeper peace and well being because you're a part of the common good. Volunteering is not intended to be used for networking, advertising, pumping up the good old meet and greets, or forwarding any agendas other than helping to answer a need. To volunteer as a infiltration strategy, to keep an eye on the potential gain rather than on the service, is to corrupt a beautiful thing.
In addition, let's consider the irony of the Downtown Investors Club claiming exclusive volunteer street cred, while in actuality there were people who have volunteered for decades supporting Measure V, circulating petitions, and speaking up at public forums. Because they didn't pound their chests and boast about their good deeds, perhaps the D.I.C. missed them. It's flat out wrong to say that Measure V supporters, slow growth advocates, did not and do not volunteer. The pro-development movers and shakers value volunteers? What better refutation of that manipulative sentiment could there than the infamous moment when Joe Mosca told one of the preeminent volunteers of Sierra Madre to "Get a Life?"
By all means, let's all volunteer whenever we can - give freely, and with grace, as Curly put it. Our city needs us, and it is good for the soul.
But for Heaven's sake, don't brag about it.