If you watched last night's City Council meeting, you saw a community grappling with tough issues: public safety funding challenges and sacrifices, redirecting citizen generosity, exploring policy gaps, tackling blight, and addressing social service benefits and needs. This discussion, though awkward and uncomfortable at times, is integral to maintaining a well-functioning community...and we've only just begun.
Many audience members felt frustrated last night, others were cautiously optimistic. I imagine that everyone in the room probably felt a mix of both at one point or another.
However, I look at the breadth of topics we covered during this Council study session on cleanliness and safety and I'm proud. We moved fairly seamlessly from public safety to policy to infrastructure to engagement without a hitch, demonstrating the true interconnectivity of the key pieces of the puzzle. Many of Council's decisions were building blocks to next steps, such as the decision to return in 8 weeks to look more deeply into the financial and political implications of immediate public safety relief in the downtown core and the ordinances that might serve as additional tools. Ultimately, we'd like to see a fully funded public safety team in place by December 31, 2013 to address needs throughout Chico. After all, our members identified public safety as our #1 advocacy priority in 2013...and we took this seriously.
Our Clean & Safe Chico team, largely responsible for framing the topics around action, had some successes last night, too. We officially launched our generosity campaign to encourage giving to service providers rather than to panhandlers which, studies show, delays individuals from seeking help and attracts panhandlers to our community. Please, pick up a poster at the Chamber to share this message with your clients, customers, families, and friends.
As much as I want to see change happen overnight, I accept the many baby steps we're going to have to take along the way. I came across a quote today that affirmed my attitude about our clean and safe efforts: "A positive thinker does not refuse to recognize the negative; he refuses to dwell on it." (Anna Quindlen)
On that note, I encourage you to find your niche within this ongoing mountain-moving endeavor. Opportunities exist that accommodate every set of beliefs within the framework of our solution-based Clean & Safe Chico model: mentoring, volunteerism, campaign messaging, policy advocacy, etc. If you need help now, please let me know so that I can communicate your concerns to our City Council. Or, please get in touch with our decision makers directly. If you want to help but you're not sure where or how, we will connect you to the project that will help you make the changes you most want to see.
Because these conversations don't stop at the end of the workday, we're all over facebook and twitter: Chico Chamber, Clean and Safe Chico, Respect Chico. Find us, follow us, and chime in.