Leading by Example, First Selectwoman of Durham, CT, Laura Foley Francis

Some of my most fervent Democratic friends may be disappointed in me for doing this, but I want to highlight the work of the Republican First Selectwoman of Durham, CT, Laura Foley Francis as an example of someone who is doing a great job of leading by example.

I first met First Selectwoman Francis at a ‘CT Tweetcrawl’. These gatherings are opportunities for people to gather and talk many things, including how they can use social media, like Twitter, Facebook and other sites, to promote things they value.

I’ve not been able to find Ms. Francis on Twitter, but we are friends on Facebook, and she has set up the Residents of the Town of Durham, CT page on Facebook. On it you will find messages like: “Welcome Home from Iraq, Captain, US Army, Melissa Golschneider, Durham, CT. We are proud of you” and “If you are unemployed or under-employed , please consider this workshop in Durham”. Sometimes, there are links to the town website, such as this one that encouraged people to attend Frog Friday.

Her personal Facebook page looks a lot like that of any other regular person. She plays Farmville and asks friends for recommendations for people to do business with. While I am not a big fan of Farmville, especially since Durham is much better farmland than anything you’ll find on Facebook, I believe that Ms. Francis’ approach to Facebook is one that people should emulate. It shows a real person concerned and connected with her community.

One of her recent posts especially caught my attention. “Thinking about hanging some clothes on the line today..” Several people commented on this. I quipped about the energy efficiency of my solar powered external clothes drier. Another person commented about good old fresh Durham air, part of the reason he loves living in Durham. One person noted that the Clean Energy Task Force gives her their official stamp of approval.

Yet one person asked, “Don't they pay you enough as first selectman to buy a dryer?” I don’t know how well Durham pays its First Selectwoman, but I suspect they are getting more than their money’s worth.

I’m sure that Ms. Francis could afford to use a clothes drier, but she has made an important choice. She has chosen to be frugal in her use of energy in a way that is enjoyable. We need more leaders willing to exhibit personal frugality in ways that improve everyone’s quality of life, not only in local government, but also at the state and national level.

Ms. Francis is to be commended for leading by example, and I wish her many more great days hanging laundry outside.