September 24, 2014

The PB article in Saturday’s paper entitled “We Need People” mentioned improving quality of life via new restaurants and art venues….which is valid…but certainly that is not the full picture!

After my first twelve (12) weeks here, I have a list of a few things I think also need to be addressed/added:

The Traditionalist and Boomer voices are loud and clear in their wishes but I am somewhat uncomfortable in these community meetings to look around at the sea of gray hair as I think to myself…where are the Millennials? Building for the future does not make sense if that new vision will only appeal to those of us that will no longer be in the workforce once that vision is realized – twenty years from now.

From what I learned about the Millennials when I was involved in similar “place-making” projects in Minneapolis – this is a big mistake! In fact, much of the energy and forward-thinking ideas that became part of PLAN-it Hennepin came from the students at Fair School that were integrated into our teams.

They were incredible; and their perspective often redirected the rest of us as we overlooked some fairly important elements- as they politely steered us back on the path of what will be needed IN THE FUTURE.

We need to remember that the Millennials are not a car generation; nor are they a house-in-suburb generation. To get more people to live here to provide that needed pool for labor, we might want to think bikers and walkers; public transportation options, and downtown housing needs.

And, as a city dweller for most of last twenty (20) years, I learned that also means grocery stores, office supplies, and a Walmart/Target-type option.

I know from my house search this Spring – there are not a lot of options downtown today. Since I arrived, I have experimented with the public transportation system occasionally and can get to Apache, Crossroads and Silver Lake Shopping Center without much trouble. It is less friendly if I want to visit one of my siblings living in Rochester. And I certainly miss HOUR CAR or a similar option when I need a big grocery run.

I recognize I have been influenced by interactions with leaders in creative city-making such as Charles Landry, Candy Chang, and especially Gil Penelosa during their residencies in MSP, so my intuition says to create not only a functional city, but also a happy city, we need more dreamers to balance out the gray-haired nay-sayers!

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