What I learned at City Hall

Posted on June 18, 2010 by Lana Lile

It’s late and I just got home from a City Planning Commission meeting. Admittedly, I stayed late chatting with Commission members. I went as a member of the public as I was interested in their topic of the evening: housing. What I really got out of the meeting, however, had less to do with housing – although historic preservation and urban sprawl was rather intriguing – and more to do with the strategies of development. It made me think about advocacy, education, relief and development. Here’s why…

The town in which I currently reside is also the town that I grew up in. It was once a roaring 1920’s timber town and currently is in need of some development and economic upswing. Charmed by tall evergreens and a winding river, its environmental aspects keep your enjoyment, but it’s development is essential to the well being of its inhabitants. So there I sat, attending a government commission meeting (made up of volunteers) and thought: this, in a way, is like advocacy. This is where the public comes to voice their opinions and where the recommendations are made to generally plan the city. The Planning Commission affects things like housing, zoning, traffic and commercial/industrial/residential development to name a few. Then there was me. The local sitting in, fascinated, learning all about ordinances and stakeholders and all of the small things that go into making downtowns pretty and housing affordable that I would have never thought about. I was being educated. After the meeting we chatted about jobs, local skills and the economy. My town is on track for being awarded a large state project, but really, this project’s designated end (it is slated to last about five years) makes it more so a relief to the area than a true development. So that’s why we were at the Planning Commission meeting; to talk about the future, and ways that the area can develop in the long term while the relief strategies are aiding us in the mean time. The real kicker was realizing that none of this happens without money. Grants, developers willing to spend good amounts of hard-earned cash, city taxes and more are needed to revitalize a community. It’s the same idea in my community as it is in places around the world.

There, staring me in the face, were the four things that ELCA World Hunger also uses to make development happen at home and around the world. Sitting in that living example, it became very clear to me that each part of the process is key to the end goal. I will continue to learn more and more each day about the root causes of hunger and poverty, advocate on behalf of those who need my voice, help in necessary relief efforts and opt for sustainable development whenever possible. I’ve also realized just how vital any donation that I can give is to getting the job done.

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