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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Planning and Zoning - The Fun Begins

I spend part of my working life reading and applying Alabama state statutes and case law. Tonight, I began an adventure into the world of municipal law. I observed my town's planning and zoning commission.

Next month, I should be a full blown member.

For years now, no matter where I have lived, I have treated it as a temporary homestead. Since leaving home for college in 2001, I have failed to stay in one place continuously for more than 12 months. When I first started this job I love, I only meant it to last for a year or two, to serve as my soft introduction to the paralegal world. I remained ready to go in an instant, for whatever reason. Mine was a restless heart.

And yet though I put forth a slight effort to leave, I remained. This past spring, I decided to stop fooling around and to make this community my home. I moved into a new apartment. I began attempting to branch out by attending community events. I told the Boss I intended on staying indefinitely, no plans or desires to find another job in another place. I started setting down roots.

Then I joined NALA and NALS. There's a saying about two birds and one stone; try five birds with two stones. By joining NALA and NALS, I also joined their local affiliates AAPi, BCALP, and AALS. I attended the AAPi summer conference, and I have had two monthly meetings with BCALP. Despite a few awkward moments, which are inevitable when trying to expand one's comfort zone, I've largely enjoyed these events.

But the moment that will solidify this town as my home will be my appointment to the planning and zoning commission. My participation in this commission is different and separate from my joining the other organizations. While professional organizations encourage some amount of community involvement, planning and zoning is involvement. It is community and policy and, notably, something completely separate from my job. I joined professional organizations for networking, knowledge, and opportunities; I am joining planning and zoning just for me, as my own project separate from my career and career considerations (though we only meet about one hundred feet from my office).

Tonight was extremely intriguing to me. I kept my mouth shut and my opinions to myself, but I can already tell that I will enjoy these discussions once I am an official member. We are of different ages, backgrounds, and quite obviously, political beliefs, but I soaked up every word that was said.

I think I will enjoy reading and discussing town ordinances. All day at work I am thinking of state law, which is big and forceful and yet untouchable. I learned tonight that I find ordinances to be tangible and real, small enough to affect even me, and small enough, even for me to affect somehow. This is going to fun.

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