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Small town meetings 

People often say there's nothing to do in a small town. Actually I find it busier than a suburb. One of the interesting dynamics of small-town living is that a large percentage of people tend to get wrapped up in the same story. A zoning hearing, for example, only affects a tiny neighborhood in a city -- but in a small town, there's only a tiny neighborhood to start with!

So meetings take on greater importance in people's lives. It may be hard to believe that "something to do" on Tuesday night may consist of "going to City Council" -- but I do think that often happens. So that's one disconnect in the relation between big-city and small-town.

The other is that journalists tend to report results of such meetings blandly. "Agenda occupies City Council." "Council debates zoning." And so on. It's couched as advice to journalists on how to cover meetings, but in a sense this essay is advice to any city-dwellers on how to find the rhythms of a small town.

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