Better Engagement will Strengthen Neighborhoods

I have always believed that neighborhood organizations play a vital role in building community and working with the City of Minneapolis to engage people about important issues. That’s why I got involved in Citizens for a Loring Park Community and why my husband and I joined the board of our neighborhood organization when we moved to Lowry Hill East.

But important decisions about the future of our communities are being made every day without input from many of our neighbors. This is one of the reasons I ran for City Council and it is one of my top priorities this term. It is critical that as the City of Minneapolis invests millions of dollars a year in public engagement that we challenge ourselves to reflect diverse voices and interests in our decision-making. Young people, new families, people of color, new Americans, renters – these voices need to count if we are going to build a city that is successful in the future.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and listened to people’s concerns, hopes and dreams for their neighborhoods and the city. I am committed to making sure that the diverse voices I heard on your doorsteps are reflected in the decisions made at City Hall.

We are at an important crossroads. We have an opportunity to move forward with building a progressive city with good jobs for people of all backgrounds, the great public education that I received growing up, a full range of transportation options and housing for people of all walks of life at all stages of life. To do this we must involve more voices in the conversation. We should go beyond meetings and embrace technology and proactive outreach. Our engagement has to be relevant, welcoming and culturally appropriate.

I am fully committed to working with all stakeholders, including neighborhood organizations, to reach these goals. But I believe that the City has to do more. My door is open, and I want to know what you think. You can find me at the neighborhood organization meetings, at my weekly office hours, at our monthly Ten Talks, or wherever your neighbors are gathered. Better engagement is no threat, it is critical to building healthy neighborhoods and a thriving city.

Lisa Bender
10th Ward City Council Member