Vancouver City Council Holds Community Picnic, Forgets to Invite Community
Instead of its usual weekly meeting, the Vancouver City Council last night held a community picnic at LeRoy Haagen Memorial Park, on the city's east side.
Unfortunately, in their excitement to postpone city business for a few more days, city council and staff neglected to actually invite anyone else to the party.
"Where is everybody?" asked Mayor Tim Leavitt. "It's really disappointing how few people take an interest in engaging with their city council." He tucked a stack of campaign materials back into the trunk of his car. "Guess I won't need these," he muttered.
A young couple on their way to the playground with their daughter wandered over when councilor Larry Smith waved them down.
"We didn't even know about it," said the woman. "Why would you host a community picnic and not invite the community?" She looked at Smith and waited. "Seriously, I'm waiting for an answer. Did you just expect to show up and have people rush over here to meet you?"
Smith looked at the ground and shuffled his foot a little. "I guess we did," he said. "But it's not like we didn't announce it at all! We mentioned it at last week's council meeting, and there was a 2-sentence blurb in the newspaper."
The woman blinked at Smith. "You realize that the communications program you just described reaches a total of seventeen people, don't you? And ten of those people are city staff."
"It's pretty messed up to say you want to come over and engage the east side of town, then not mention it to any of us who live here, and then--" she looked across the grass at the mayor, who was flipping through a copy of Portland Monthly-- "blame US for not being engaged."
"So," said Smith, stroking his chin, "it sounds to me like you're saying that if the city council wants to engage the community, we need to actually get out there are talk with the community? Instead of expecting them to come and talk to us and calling them slackers when they don't?"
The woman nodded.
Smith brightened and stood up straighter. "I'm really glad you dropped by. This is a great idea! I'm so excited to share this revolutionary idea with my colleagues!"
The woman cocked her head and blinked. "Seriously? You're telling me no one has ever told you this before?"
Smith pulled her in for a bear hug. "This is going to change everything." He stepped back and looked over his shoulder at his fellow councilmembers. "Now, could you write up this idea into, say, a four-page memo that I can take to the council next week so we can get started on the workshop process to evaluate this concept?"