Today Jef and I went to the West Side Market, the most gorgeous, century-old market on W. 25th in Cleveland. We bought lunch at our favorite falafel stand. Not only did we feel great about supporting a business we know and love, they have the best falafel in northeast Ohio. So delicious!

We weren’t the only people grabbing falafel on a Saturday afternoon. A local politician ordered just after we did. When I was a teenager, he taught me everything I know about writing a press release, how to speak effectively in a circle of people, and nurtured my interest in civic engagement. He co-signed a proclamation that I wrote on behalf of the youth of my city, along with our mayor. More recently, he helped my dad move up the date of his naturalization ceremony so that he could become a citizen in time to register to vote.

As a rule, I am very skeptical of politics, and politicians as they function within it. But outside of politics, politicians are people. I haven’t met many of them in person, and I’ve known even fewer on a level that I’d call personal. But this man, as an individual, I trust. I like him. And I imagine it’s tough remaining the kind of person I like, while entrenched in a system that offers so many incentives to become otherwise.

So after grabbing our falafel (mine with hummus, Jef’s with baba and hot sauce), I shook his hand and thanked him for all he does.

Because even though we have different views about the best methods of creating better communities, I do believe that we’re both doing what we can for that end. And sometimes a little bit of encouragement is just what a community builder needs.