As Co-Chair for my neighborhood council and representative to the assembly of neighborhoods that meet monthly, I sought out the old guard to better understand the intent and history of this unique group. By listening to them and working to build participation in my own neighborhood, I realized that money was necessary to be effective. I petitioned our City support department and the City Council for funds and now we have a $20,000 budget for the first time in 20 years. Being here only 18 months, I was twice nominated for volunteer of the year – an incredible honor!
Learning to listen and seeing the underlying dynamics at work has helped me negotiate the egos and subtle alliances that often sink potential change initiatives. I happened at the right time and sharing a vision made this an effective endeavor.
Engaging residents is the first step in building a strong, democratic and collaborative city government. This is very exciting, as I believe it is one of very few such experiments in the United States. The time is ripe, here in Spokane, as we recover from the recession and look forward to a brighter future.