Is it smart to listen to them?
One of the biggest problems in local policymaking and problem-solving is a failure to make certain important distinctions.
Here is perhaps the most challenging:
When people in the community (this could be “activists” or regular folks in town) get fired up about a problem it’s essential that local officials and the rest of the community pay attention to their concerns. This is central to democratic governance.
Here’s the rub: people who get righteously upset about a problem also tend to think that they know the best solution to that problem. But it’s actually a mistake to assume that is correct. Those upset people might have a good idea to solve the problem but their ideas might also be totally stupid. Just because someone is an “expert” in recognizing a problem does not mean they have any special expertise in solving it.
Don’t get me wrong: these folks might just have a good solution. However, expressing their frustration about a problem does not suddenly make them an expert... or even smart!