Mayor Nancy Chaney continues to report on the good work being highlighted during the final days of the National League of Cities Congress of Cities and Exposition. Councilmember Tom Lamar and Human Rights Commission member and University of Idaho student Ruben Tsarukyan also attended the conference.
Anthony Foxx spoke at a breakfast meeting in his independent capacity, from his perspective as a former mayor and Council member about equitable access to education and jobs, a prepared workforce, problems related to social inequality and income disparity, opportunities for at-risk youth, and the role of local government in being a leading part of the solution.
In a session called Aging and a Shared Community Vision (also a theme the Mayor had suggested), attendees heard about preparedness for more residents over age 65 and the needs and expectations related to aging in place, universally accessible housing, public transit/transportation, recreational spaces, access to goods and services, and the reshaping of city footprints to accommodate them. The concept of "vital aging" emphasized that active, educated seniors are assets to the local economy and social climate. One questioner wondered why the university in her Midwestern city didn't provide housing for active retirees, but acknowledged some conflicts between lifestyles with neighboring students.
Chaney met with Susan Johnson, Region 10 Director for the Department of Health and Human Services to discuss the Affordable Healthcare Act, student health resources, attitudes and under-appreciated capacity in the 18-24 year old demographic, healthy eating, local foods, active lifestyles, the Let's Move! initiative, the concept of One Health as pertains to integrating human, animal, and ecological health in community planning and the relative regulatory roles of local, state and national governments and prospects associated with the WWAMI medical education program, as well as veterinary and environmental expertise, and Moscow as a leader in healthy community efforts.
Chaney also spoke with a representative from Japan Local Governments about sister city relationships, economic development opportunities, international students on campus, and the value of mutual outreach. Idaho delegates at the meeting also attended a reception hosted by Japan later that evening. Attending that evening, Chaney visited a Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) fellow from the delegation she led to Japan in 2010 who is now employed by the National League of Cities, having previously represented the interests of counties from across the country. Another CLAIR fellow is the executive director for the League of Minnesota Cities, which will host a reception for the incoming president of the NLC, Chris Coleman, Mayor of St. Paul. Networking opportunities through this organization are worthwhile and substantive.
The general session exposed the general membership of NLC to the strategic objectives affirmed by the Board the day before.
Chaney attended a Making Your Community More Business Friendly (a topic she recommended to NLC for this meeting) and a Youth Delegate and Elected Leaders Social. Chaney notes, "It was an inspiring roundtable hosted by NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families, to discuss topics of importance to high school delegates from around the country. As always, I was impressed by their thoughtfulness and the ways they worked together for the common good."
On Saturday morning, November 16, at the Joint Council Networking Breakfast, Chaney had an opportunity to discuss Operation Education and other veterans support efforts at the University of Idaho, and to learn about possible resources to expand efforts into job training and housing for veterans, communitywide. She facilitated interaction among those who might help. She attended a presentation called Revving the Economic Engines of Smaller Communities, and was reminded how different are the monetary and policy resources available in Washington from Idaho. Chaney described the session as being led by a, "dynamic presenter, Summer Minnick from the Michigan Municipal League who reinforced that Moscow is absolutely on the right track by fostering quality of life and authentic sense of place attributes to attract and retain a talented workforce that seeks those things first, and fits the jobs after. I STRONGLY recommend a book that I received from the Michigan League Director at an NLC conference in 2011, which was the premise of the presentation at this meeting: The Economics of Place: The value of building communities around people."
Also on Saturday, November 16, Chaney was part of a very well-attended, favorably-received panel presentation with the mayors of Oklahoma City and Bladensburg MD, talking about "Creating Active Transportation Infrastructures that Promote Walking and Biking." Chaney notes she was, "encouraged by the interest generated in the topic and by the common theme that communities that provide for non-motorized uses are more livable, attractive, and prosperous, with healthier populations."
That afternoon, Chaney was on a panel for the Closing General Session. Bruce Katz, of the Brookings Institution and co-author of Metropolitan Revolution, was the keynote presenter. He talked about cities as leaders in innovation, collaborative problem-solving, and economic prosperity. Fellow panelists included the mayor-elect of Seattle, the mayor of Denver, and an administrator from St. Paul. No matter that Moscow is not a metropolis, we are leading in many significant ways, and that message was well-received.
That evening, the City of Seattle hosted a zero-waste dinner event for probably a couple thousand attendees at the Experience Music Project in Seattle Center.
Chaney notes of the experience that, "All considered, this was a well-organized, relevant, productive meeting, with numerous contacts with as-yet-to-be-determined outcomes, lots of prominently-featured favorable publicity for our community, and shared best practices for consideration. "
Tsarukyan said of the experience, "I would like to say that this conference has taught me how important it is to get things done on a local government level in order to benefit the bigger state and country as a whole. It is also important for local city officials and students to attend conferences like this to broaden their knowledge about how to deal with certain problems happening in their city or problems that may lie ahead.