Civic Leadership Academy Graduates Present Ideas for Connecting Community Members
A multi-language smartphone app. A party-in-a-box kit for neighborhoods. A common name to describe Hillsboro residents.
The 13 graduates of the 2018 Hillsboro Civic Leadership Academy offered creative and innovative recommendations for increasing community connectivity throughout Hillsboro.
Appearing at the Hillsboro City Council meeting on November 6, 2018, presenters described themselves as “huge nerds for Hillsboro” and “a very diverse group of individuals with a very obvious love of the City of Hillsboro.”
Academy graduate Thomas Kim drew the biggest applause of the evening in describing Hillsboro’s growing population as “younger, more diverse, and probably better looking” than other cities’ residents.
Kim also noted a number of challenges that City residents face related to neighborhood identity, walkability, and reaching past language and technology barriers to reach the roughly 29 percent of residents who speak a language other than English at home.
After applying in the summer to take part in the six-week Academy during the fall, the group was asked to research, analyze, and recommend ways to increase connections throughout Hillsboro. The Civic Leadership Academy Class of 2018 reached out to draw inspiration from artists, police officers, business owners, teachers, and many more. But they didn’t stop there.
“How can we be a more connected, compassionate, and engaged city where all residents are aware that they live in Hillsboro and that it totally rocks?” asked Academy graduate Mary O’Brien, who described Hillsboro’s 101,000+ residents as equally vested in this effort. “Whether they want to be or not, they are all partners in grappling with this mission.”
Ideas for Increasing Connectivity
In focusing on the City’s identity, communication, and social spaces, the Academy graduates asked, “Are we Hillsboroans? Hillsborites?” Or is there another name that could bring people together?
The suggested multi-language app could share Hillsboro events, news, and important information, such as traffic alerts.
A party-in-a-box kit could make it easier for neighbors to host a block party on their street by providing marketing materials, postcards, invitations, a to-do list, local business contacts, and a City staff liaison who could join the party as well, if available.
"People feel connected when they feel heard, when they feel like they’re part of a larger picture,” noted Academy graduate Alicia French.
While the verbal report to the City Council lasted a matter of minutes, the Academy graduates submitted a substantial written report as well, which the City Council and City staff will study and discuss in the coming months.
"In each recommendation, we suggest bringing the City to the people," French said. "Whether it’s in the way that we identify ourselves, the way that we hear from you, the City, or the places that we gather together. If we’re able to bring the City to the people where they’re at, we can foster a stronger sense of unity as a whole city and as a community."
Launched in 2016 with the support of the City Council, the Academy welcomes Hillsboro residents who are new to local government to engage, offer input, and prepare to serve in a range of civic leadership capacities. Since 2016, 10 Academy graduates have gone on to serve on City boards and commissions.
Previous Academy classes have provided their recommendations to address housing needs and to increase support for local entrepreneurs.