I focus my skills and time on making my city a healthy city, playing a supporting role to the countless others also doing that work.
So what does that mean?
I offered a preview of my future work in my previous sabbatical post. As I hinted there, my work will be local, it will explicitly foster “equity,” it will focus on practial and specific goals, and I will use a network approach.
But what do I mean when I say “healthy city?” And given all that needs doing, what principles will I use to choose where to pitch in?
Defining a Healthy City
I have something specific in mind when I say “healthy city.” It is not the Minneapolis and St. Paul that exists today, although we have some bright spots we can grow.
A healthy city works for every person in it, particularly people with less access to resources.
To work for everyone, it must respect each person’s self-defined identity and support each person’s self-determination.
That means each person, whatever their identity, feels respected in the design of spaces, in interactions, and in having access to the benefits of living in the city. It also means each person feels respected as they work toward personal and community goals and in voicing their own needs.
No individual’s self-defined identity or self-determination can disrespect that of others. The city can’t work for me or for us if it doesn’t work for everyone.
Only in this healthy city can each person contribute to the city to their fullest, in their own unique way.
We don’t have this city today. Systemic oppression of Native and Black people is a fact, documented through our “worst in nation” racial disparities ranking. It’s a fact for all people of color, doubly so for women and queer people of color. While my work spans all sorts of power and inclusion, I see race as a fundamental issue that has to be integrated into everything.
Three Principles for Achieving a Healthy City
These principles guide how I invest my time and focus my work. I’m sharing a bright spot that illustrates each one, something we can learn from and borrow from. read more