As you consider milestones for your civic-engagement priority, please remain open to future opportunities. Among specific reasons are the following.
1. Neighborhood leaders have not yet had an opportunity to meet with Ed Everett to offer our perspective on ways to enhance civic participation. A meeting is scheduled for April 15, after tonight's milestones will have been established.
2. Additional research is needed into the ways nearby cities engage their residents. We can and should learn from others. Specifically:
The City of Mountain View has on its staff a Neighborhood Services Manager and, through a city grant program, funds a wide range of neighborhood-initiated activities that build community and foster civic engagement. PAN leaders will meet with Mountain View's Neighborhood Services Manager later this week to learn more.
The City of San Jose's Strong Neighborhoods program is considered highly successful at fostering civic participation. Some or all of the program's elements might be replicated here as part of a civic engagement initiative.
The City of Santa Clara has a robust and coordinated volunteer program with a direct link on that city's website. Santa Clara's program might be used as a model here, where the city and residents are viewed as skilled partners rather than as a provider/customer. From the website:
"Thank you for your interest in becoming a City of Santa Clara volunteer. Volunteering for the City is one of the best examples of government and people working together for the good of the community. It will give you an insider's look at how local government works, and an opportunity to share your talents, skills, and feedback on how to better serve our customers. We consider our volunteers one of the most diverse and rich resources in our community, and we're happy to have you join us.
The mission of the volunteer services program is to enhance city programs and services by matching the varied talents of concerned individuals and groups of all ages, interests, and skills with a wide variety of interesting and challenging municipal projects. Santa Clara volunteers are placed according to their interests and skills, as well as the needs of the City. Volunteer Services seeks to find the right opportunity for every volunteer-to assure a rewarding experience that enhances City services. The links below provide information about opportunities now available:
• Leadership Santa Clara
• P.A.L. Volunteers
• Senior Center Volunteers Needed
3. Moving forward, please identify individuals now on City staff who can mentor others in leading cultural change. In a specific recent example, I acknowledge and thank Khashayr "Cash" Alaee, Supervisor of Recreation Programs, who was extremely helpful in my effort to locate a room for a neighborhood association meeting on the upcoming PAUSD bond initiative. Further, at the end of our conversation, he took time to thank me and neighborhood leaders generally for the work we do for the Palo Alto community. Individual assistance and acknowledgment are powerful motivators for would-be volunteers.
In summary: Palo Alto Neighborhood leaders are now exploring the many ways nearby cities enhance civic engagement, with a view to identifying best practices. I ask that you remain open to considering new opportunities to supplement those staff recommends tonight.