How can we be more inclusive?

I heard a great segment on NPR last week about a Council of Mayors from around the world who meet annually to share best practices about how to get things done. Mayors aren’t like national politicians. Mayors live in the communities where they work. They have to know which roads and bridges need repair. Which schools need help. And how, or if, the community is working together for the good of all. They deal with local businesses as well as residents, and they have to get things done because they’re going to run into you at the grocery store or at a school event, and they know that you’re expecting them to do good work.

In Thank You For Being Late, Thomas Friedman writes about this from a slightly different angle. In St. Louis Park, the city in Minnesota where he grew up, the City Council awards grants to neighborhoods to help them organize community events to help foster a spirit of inclusion across a neighborhood – whether someone’s lived there for 30 years or they’re brand new.

And once a year, they hold a Neighborhood Forum where community representatives share best practices like “how to pull off a successful neighborhood garage sale, or block party, or community garden.”

A neighborhood yard sale might not sound like a vital part of community life, but neighborhood activities are how and where we get to know each other. And how cool is it when you’re part of a group that’s getting things done. Where everyone has a common goal. Where you’re working together and having great conversations. Where everyone knows you and your kids. And where you finally find out that the grumpy old guy down the street is really just shy and plays a great trombone?

I’m all about getting things done and national politics makes me crazy with so much wasted time.

So how can we take productivity and kindness back a level, and learn from the Council of Mayors about sharing best practices to get work done?

And what can we learn from the St. Louis Park City Council about ways to build stronger communities?

Do you have an experience you can share about a successful neighborhood gathering that helped foster a “culture of inclusion?” Please share and inspire us all!

We welcomed Spring to Maine this weekend. Yay!

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