Commentary: Telling Easton’s Best Story

David Bindelglass has announced his run for a second term as first selectman. On behalf of the Easton DTC, we’re grateful and excited. We knew he’d do a great job, and now we know how lucky we were to have him at the helm during these unstable times. His sensible decision-making and calm-in-the-storm crisis management style provide the critical ballast Easton needs to navigate forward. From expertly managing COVID to Isaias, he over-delivered on his campaign promises.

One of those promises was to improve communication in town. With open forums to foster engagement and a willingness to hear a variety of perspectives, he empowered the town to connect with the Board of Selectman, and with each other. Of all the many things he achieved, this perhaps is the most important. Because Easton is more than a town, it’s a community. Healthy community-driven conversations (although messy at times) are a fundamental part of good governance and an indispensable tool during tense times.

David understands what compels folks — as would any good physician and leader. When things are scary or uncertain, he knows how to empower people to make the best decisions and face the pain of healing. How? It’s all about the story you tell yourself about what you’re facing. Data doesn’t really matter to most people. But, the story about what the facts mean to them does matter.

That’s why two very smart people can have completely different perspectives about the data. Our story, or meaning, grows from our own experiences. The first step in bridging the gap of differences is providing opportunities to truly listen to one another as a community. Learning to appreciate each other’s journey creates mutual understanding. Without it, we just tolerate each other. David’s administration has begun this work and will continue to lead these crucial conversations.

Easton has been doing a good job during a tough time. Regardless of party affiliation, our citizen boards and commissions have mutual respect and work well together. This is due in part to recognizing common ground, and in part to the mandate that David has set. But as we’ve also seen, it doesn’t take much to derail it — especially if you don’t have the right leadership to foster communication and cooperation.

Easton and the nation are opening up, moving forward, and battling competing narratives. We have a choice about the story we tell, the ones we listen to, or, if we listen at all. If we want to be understood, we need to listen to find that communal narrative, our common ground, our shared story about what it means to live and thrive together. If we do, we’ll be better able to navigate through the crazy outside noises that divide us.

We have an opportunity to continue this crucial work together, to tell our best story, and choose leadership that knows how to model it.