Monday, October 30, 2006

Back to the Future of Neighborhoods: Summit II

Tonight was the second community meeting for neighborhood leaders sponsored by the Neighborhoods Resource Center. Turn-out was probably half or less-than-half of the first meeting's attendance. I recognized several council members in the crowd tonight, as well as 2007 mayoral candidate, Bob Clement.

Most of the evening was taken up by the break-up of the larger group into small group discussions on topics like accountability, economic development, codes, education, housing, etc. Each group received vision statements from the NRC regarding the discussion topic based on the first meeting's feedback. The small group I was in was the "Government & Citizen Participation" Group, which considered ideas like holding elected officials responsible for regular, direct communication with citizens and for developing close working relationships with neighborhood leaders to improve the community. We also discussed encouraging neighborhood groups to organize candidate forums, voter registration drives and efforts to recruit "neighborhood-friendly" candidates to run for office (although some pointed out that recruiting might be illegal for associations that are incorporated or that do not have a political action committee).

My general impression of the this meeting was that it was less productive than the first one. We were handed 13 pages of feedback material that we had to digest quickly, which bogged down discussion. I came away with the impression that the group had lost some of the momentum of the first meeting and that the vision statements were kind of nebulous and lacking strategic focus and concrete steps for achieving goals. Hopefully, they will pull things together for the final meeting in November.

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