Monday, October 23, 2017

Franklin Candidate for Town Council - Melanie Hamblen (audio)

Candidate for Franklin Town Council, Melanie Hamblen and I sat to talk at Agway. Melanie and her husband, Neal bought this operation in 2016 (more about that in the interview). It took a couple of tries to record this but this recording comes out well.

FM #134
This internet radio show or podcast is number 134 in the series for Franklin Matters.

This recording is my interview with Town Council Candidate Melanie Hamblen. We recorded this at her work location, Franklin Agway. Technically, the recording took a second try.

I also tried out a new transcription service and it seems to have translated the words to text remarkably well. I only needed to add some punctuation marks and capitalizations. When talking, sometime we pause for a sentence end, and sometimes the pause is caught, sometimes it is not. You’ll find the full text on the Franklin Matters post with this recording.

The interview itself runs about 15 minutes. Without further ado, here is the recording

Franklin Matters (FM) The first question, we've talked, so I know a little bit about you, but the benefit of the others, tell us a little bit about your background. What is your Franklin's story

MH - So my Franklin story, my husband and I moved Franklin in 2010. I. Worked in a children's hospital. In Boston and I would take the train and every day. And so when I got home from work I would go into my yard and I had my garden and I grew my own vegetables and I had chickens and dogs and bees. 

But one thing was really missing was that we didn't really know our neighbors that well. And we moved out to Franklin to have more space, to be closer to farms, and really with the goal that I wouldn't go into Boston forever on the train. Because you know what the train was like. Sometimes it can be a challenge. 

Luckily I stopped going on the train when it got really bad. One of the good things about being on the train was that you can have friends there. And so I had these train buddies actually see them here Agway now and visit with me and I still stay connected to them. So that's really good. 

So in 2016. Neal and I bought the Agway in March of 2016 what we bought the Franklin Agway it's independently owned it's not a franchise or anything. It's just us. So we've decided that to become connected to the community we had to do something different. And we really enjoyed being here with all the all of the festivals and all the things that are here in town. 

I like to put a hash tag on things sometimes. On Instagram, you can follow me on Instagram, I think you do. But I always put #betterlife. And this has really become a better life for us. We're really connected to the community and this really really feels like the right thing to do.

So we're we're trying to give people to give people information they need to make sure that they're they have they can grow their lawn in the right way or brew beer or make cheese. I'm going to do things in an environmentally positive, good earth stewardship way, makes a lot of people they want to do that. They don't know where to start. So I hope that I have a friendly personality so that people aren't afraid to ask me questions.

Well one of the things we moved to Franklin was because there were farms here and so I live down the street from Hoffman Farm and I went down to check the Farmer Nick. I said to him "What can I do to help you?" I have this time now I want to I want to be more involved in what goes on in town. And he said the number one thing you can do is help us is to create an agricultural commission in town. 

And so it's a lot of the farmers that come into the store. I knew more people than anybody else did. And so we've got all the farmers together and put together a proposal to the town to create an agriculture commission. So they had a voice.  I felt like nobody really cared about them and that they didn't nobody listened to what they had to say. 

Just the whole process of doing this has made them feel better and more connected to the community themselves. So it's kind of a win win win win situation here. We were all with a little bit because we have our farmers feel connected we are connected to them and they feel a little more. And farming is really stressful. And they were worried about what's going to happen to their farm in the future is their family going to have a place to live? Are they going to be able survive through the next winter? Is there going to be a big change in the legislature or the rulings of a town that's going to make it impossible for them to farm?

You see things like that have had been happening in other communities around us and and also just in the direction that the town is going. It seemed like they were really worried about their state their space their land. And really you don't want your farmers stressed up that much because they get us food. Right. They were something we need. Right. And they keep us connected to the ground into the earth and to each other.

So I'm working with the farmers and Jeff and Jamie in particular (Jeff Nutting and Jamie Hellen) the administrators of the town when we actually worked with the Economic Development Committee that's put together a proposal to create to create an official commission here in town. And I think this will give the farmers a real voice, that gives them it gives them an official voice in town that they really truly exist. 

And that's really a powerful thing and empowers them to be able to take control of their own destiny really right. It's like a really good thing. So the Town Council voted for it. We built a community around that agricultural commission.  There's a Facebook page that said all the farms we're on you can find out where everybody is. And when they have things available. 

Jeff and Jamie have really helped me a lot to bring this proposal to the State House, to get it put into our charter, so it will be official and real. 

I went to the town council meetings. I started in January. You saw me there. You get to sit next to each other and to see how things work and how things are how things work in the town. Why do we have to do these things three times and what does this mean. I think we have to go at least four times in a row to really understand how long the process takes and how much work it is.

One of the things I've realized is that I feel that the town council I think I have a different voice. I think that that the voice of the pro-agriculture, pro-open space. I feel like I'm more of a collaborator and I like to build consensus with people. I like to build teams to work out work on project problems and projects and to communicate with other people. 

That's one of my big things as I just love to make sure that people have the information that they need to make the right choices for them. It's like we don't have to all agree as long as we have the information to make our own opinions and to create our own opinions. 

You know I've always find it very interesting to meet a group of people and to find out all the different opinions that people have about a certain subject and then think about it myself and then decide what I think is right for me. So that's that's all my science background that comes through on almost everything I do. 

I'm I'm always observing observing people or things or do experiments with my tomatoes that I grow. And I mean I like to gather information about a certain thing. So if I don't know one, I can't give somebody a decision right away. I have to go research and maybe sometimes people want people want an answer they want something quick. But I think we need to slow down a little bit sometimes and really think about what we are doing and what we're going to say and and really weigh all the different opinions that are out there right.

FM: What do you see as your role’s biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?

MH - Based upon what I've seen and heard so from going to the different town council meetings and I think the budget meetings were really informative and that it's it seems like the one of the major issues we're going to come up against is to have a balanced budget. To have the schools and all of our services supplied with the funding that they need. It's going to be really hard to to make sure that the school budget is filled and that we have all the police department has everybody they need in a fire department has everybody they need. 

I really wanna make sure that people are safe in town and that they have and they have it and they have a chance. Our students, our children have a chance to be able to get the education they need.

I don't have a son in town in school. He's 26. He's got to have a Westwood education. At that time we voted to redo the Westwood high school so when we moved to Franklin in 2010 and the first thing we voted for was to upgrade the Franklin high school. It's really important. Not just to keep our property values up but to have a good place for kids to learn.

I guess I'm kind of a nerd because I think education is really important and a well-balanced education. We need to have great to be able to have music and art and our students need to be able to learn how to think. So when the time comes I will have to use my science back my science background and really study this budget. It's really serious. It's a serious thing and it's really super important and we can't just make a snap decision and we have to really take time and study this and find out the best way to get it to get to the end.

FM: So that would be a good segue to the second you talked about your Franklin's story and their challenges. And so I think you've already started talking about it. What are you what would you bring to the council to help the council meet those challenges as we go forward.

MH - Well one of the things I'm very passionate about is communication. I think what we need to do is we need to communicate to people. We need to educate everyone about what our needs are. And what the services with our money can pay for and if there's a gap. People need to understand that. 

We need to help people understand. We need to reach out to people. We can't just think that it's OK for them to come and talk to us. I really feel like we need to do an outreach and explain to people what it means. Explain everything that happens and I think then you'll find that you'll get more support. Because people feel like you care.  I care about Franklin I want Franklin to be the best place it can be. I think we need it. It can only be in the best place if we all work together. 

FM - And so having covered the basic three questions the Franklin Cultural Council asked me to ask the Town Council candidates. So if I may let me just read it to you. 

"As you know Franklin has applied to the state for the official cultural district designation in town. What do you feel was the role of arts and culture in Franklin and what is your plan to advance that interest. "

MH - Well first of all. I think the fact that we have so many really interesting. Cultural stations in town. Is really exciting to me because there's the.

[00:12:44] For me as a small business owner and one of the things I think about is that you can get people excited to come downtown and go to shop. to shows then they're going to eat in the local restaurants and it's just a great thing for the local economy. So I feel like, it's not only is a quality of life thing. It really helps us all. Pays for our life. It's really exciting that there's so much stuff going on in Franklin that has has this really good quality makes you feel good. I need to use my background again here to learn more about the funding of the council. I don't really know much about it. I did try to check Facebook and look around at that at the Web sites and I couldn't really find too much about it. But I think it's a wonderful thing for all the way. 

Well I just want to thank everybody for listening to me. And I want you to know that I want to know what is important to you. So now you know what's important to me. And I want to know what's important to you. I think it's really good to know. We need to share our ideas and our opinions with each other so that we can find out what's best to go forward for the town. So if you're on Facebook you can find me on Facebook.

There's Melanie Hamblen for Town Council. There's also the That's me too. Or you can even contact me through the Franklin Agway Facebook page. And my I'll give you my e-mail address too (  

So there's tons of ways to get in touch with me if you want to meet me in person. Let me know. I'm always willing to meet with people. It's one of the best things that I get to do here now that I'm here at the Agway.


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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!


You can also subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes = search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 7. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion. 

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