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from a former political outsider

By Lisa Platt Auensen - Posted on 02 March 2009

In January of 2002, I was recently married and house hunting in Royal Oak (as many young professionals at that time were). We stumbled upon a cute little house in Berkley and immediately thought, "Berkley?" We spent two years fixing up our house and yard – barely meeting another Berkley soul. I had not necessarily been enthralled with Berkley's simpleness and hadn't embraced my neighborhood, yet.

It happened, fairly suddenly, in the summer of 2004 when I was enraged at the thought of surviving additional Bush years. I signed up online to provide local campaign help through MoveOn and was contacted by a neighbor who introduced herself as the district leader. I had briefly met her a year or so before on the sidewalk walking her dog and was pleasantly surprised to encounter her again. Over the next few months I met more and more like-minded neighbors through various campaign efforts, only to have my enthusiasm squashed by defeat. We had lost and the country would not get to experience the transformation is desperately needed.

Strangely, I had been transformed – from a mere Berkley homeowner to a Berkley community member. I had lived in Berkley for years and was never really able to make it my home until fear of four more Bush years brought me together with strangers from four doors down and taught me more about the couple from the end of the block. Politics, which I had previously only been mildly interested in, had provided the neighborhood feel I had been looking for.

They say all politics is local, and I'm sure they're really referring to impact; but they shouldn't discount the value of meeting like-minded neighbors and being part of a community.

I honestly think helping me see Berkley in a new light was the best thing that ever came out of the Bush administration. Sadly, that's not saying much...

Now (thanks to politics) when you see me at Amici's or pass me on the sidewalk you will probably hear me say, "Yes, Berkley!"