Kicking off a new tradition in 2022

Council Perspectives
Kicking off a new tradition in 2022To ring in the new year, we’re kicking off a new tradition—an annual meeting for all our Ward 2 neighbors. 
You’re invited to join us on Jan. 13 from 5:30-7 p.m. on Zoom. While we’ll be meeting virtually this year due to the ongoing pandemic, we know this work is best done face-to-face, and we hope to be in person in 2023.
At the meeting, we’ll have a chance to do three things we don’t often take time to do: celebrate success, problem-solve directly with city leaders and envision what we want for our community.
First, we’ll celebrate what we’ve achieved together over the past year. We tend to stay focused on what still needs to be done – the trash that needs to be collected, the potholes that need filling, the affordable housing we need to build and so on. But it’s also important to recognize what we’ve gotten right—the new bikeways, sidewalks and park shelters that have been built, the trees that have been planted, the volunteer hours we’ve put into our neighborhoods. City-building happens over generations, so we only get to see one small sliver of the work in our lifetimes. Without taking time to celebrate success, we can lose motivation for the important efforts still ahead of us.
Next, we’ll have the chance to talk in small groups with the leaders of city departments that touch our lives most immediately. Government works best at the local level because we can talk directly with our representatives and the staff who are carrying out policies on a day-to-day basis. If we don’t like the way something is done, we can share our perspective with those who are responsible and work with them to find a better way. Every day, I connect constituents with department leaders and staff to help solve their problems, and it’s thrilling to see how powerful the feedback loop can be. For example, staff hear directly that a certain snowplow route isn’t working, neighbors learn more about the constraints plow drivers operate under, staff and neighbors figure out different ways to solve the problem, and everyone leaves with a better understanding of one another and how the policy works in practice. At the meeting, we’ll break into small groups, and you can speak with the department leaders of your choice: police, fire, parks, libraries, public works and other departments. This is your opportunity to ask questions, share your ideas and meet the people working for you.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, I’m eager to hear your thoughts on how we should define success in our ward. When we envision a thriving community, what do we see? What do we want for ourselves, our families and our neighbors? What can we do to get there and how can we measure whether we’re moving in the right direction? I’ve been impressed by cities that set goals for themselves—on everything from miles of paved bike trails to number of housing units built to the amount of time it takes to remove graffiti—and regularly report back to the community on their progress. I think doing something similar for our ward would give us clarity on our priorities and help us hold ourselves accountable for results. We’ll begin this conversation at this year’s annual meeting, and I hope we can work together over the course of the year to develop concrete goals to guide us.
See you on Jan. 13. You can find the link to the meeting at stpaul.gov/ward2. I am looking forward to the conversation and the work ahead of us in this new year! 

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