Commentary: Thank you, communities of Barrington

By Jacob Brier
Posted 11/30/22

As the completion of my first foray into elective office was drawing near, reflection took its natural place, top-of-mind. As a person who focuses on solutions, reflection is a powerful tool to plan …

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Commentary: Thank you, communities of Barrington

Posted

As the completion of my first foray into elective office was drawing near, reflection took its natural place, top-of-mind. As a person who focuses on solutions, reflection is a powerful tool to plan for the future. I would like to share with the community the people for whom I’m grateful, the things I have learned, and my hopes for what our future together brings.

The Public Servants with whom I had the opportunity to serve.

I am grateful to have worked with dedicated and diverse people delivering to Barrington a formidable list of accomplishments over these past four years. This includes folks working at Town Hall, elected and appointed officials, and committed volunteers. The following are a small sample of some of the achievements on which I am grateful and proud to have worked or voted. For the environment we eliminated the worst plastics from food service and shipping; expanded composting; and limited harmful landscaping chemicals. For resilience against the impacts of a changing climate, we advanced the Walker Farm shoreline and recreation project, expanded the scope of our resilience consultant and secured from Financial Town Meeting (FTM) voters increased investments in resiliency work. For affordability, we oversaw the launch of a down payment assistance program, by the Housing Board of Trustees; secured FTM approval of an affordable housing reserve fund; and expanded the military veteran, Gold Star family, and elderly tax exemptions. For public safety, we invested in state of the art equipment to keep first responders safe and effective; and we worked collaboratively with our Police Department during a time of increased racial tension nationally. For the community, we implemented a livable minimum wage, held the first annual Barrington Beach Community Campout, and reckoned with our nation’s and town’s history of oppression and invested sweat equity and funds toward making inclusivity a hallmark of Barrington.

The faith leaders with whom I collaborated during this turbulent time.

I had the opportunity to collaborate with a dozen faith leaders during my term on a variety of projects to support our community. The people serving our neighbors in lay and clergy positions at Barrington’s many religious institutions are true stewards of the strong values-based character of our town. One of the most meaningful events of my tenure was a program with which I worked with three clergy members in our community to design and host: Circles of Peace. Residents from across town came together, following violent incidents across the globe at places of worship. Participants sat facing one another and took turns having 1-on-1 conversations about their hopes and fears for Barrington. I remain inspired by the many social justice vigils organized by the Barrington Interfaith Partnership, and the group of Jewish leaders in town who came together to discuss rising anti-Semitism in the country and instances of it manifesting in Barrington.

Residents with whom I spoke, who listened, and all who engaged to advance our town.

From the early weeks of my campaign in the spring of 2018, through the morning of my final Council meeting, I convened scores of informal gatherings, distributed dozens of surveys and publicized a plethora of community events. Each of these created unique opportunities for us to share time and space and to be part of one another’s experience. The investment of time and energy in doing so was substantial, but with tremendous return on investment. I will forever be grateful to all who engaged with me, positively and negatively, productively and counterproductively, and with the best and worst intentions. Without all of these people, we wouldn’t be in the good place we are.

My family and close friends who sustained my energy and helped me to heal wounds.

Nobody is perfect, and those closest to me always knew how to remind me of that, for myself and those with whom I found myself in conflict. It’s sort of obligatory to thank one’s family and partner, and I’d obviously be remiss to not do so. But at the same time, the words do no justice to the meaning they attempt to hold. My parents raised me to be a person who cares about others, does what is right, and is mindful of both the ends and the means. My son is the future of my world and it is for him that I do this work. Dani is my strength, and it is because of her that I am able to do this work. She magnified the wins and softened the blows. She helped me keep everything in perspective. Our extended family and the friends I hold dear have been welcome and necessary shoulders – sometimes carrying the load, sometimes providing a place to cry.

I’ve learned and grown so much.

The experience of elected office has reminded me of the value of integrity, the worth of accountability, the importance of personal resiliency, the scarcity of the moral convictions to do what is right even when it is difficult or unpopular.

It is my hope for the future of our town that we collaborate to overcome the obstacles in front of us – physical, structural, environmental, and social. In order to achieve this in true harmony, we must continue to work through our conflict by using direct action, with intention and commitment to positive change. We can embrace our differences as a means of strengthening the ties that bind us. I am encouraged by the way our town has embraced the Council’s and many in the community’s recent efforts to enlarge our proverbial tent, and plan for a stronger future.

I look forward to working with neighbors, together, to advocate that our town maintains the great progress we’ve made, and that we continue moving toward an even better Barrington.

Jacob Brier has served as a member of the Barrington Town Council since 2018.

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