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Posted on: November 8, 2018

Note from the Mayor: Moving Beyond Our Differences

Pownell

As I’m writing this, I don’t know what the results of Election Day will hold for all of us. I’m sure, however, that they will elicit strong emotions.  We live in unprecedented times, and we’re all trying to figure out how to navigate them.  No matter what, I feel it’s important for me to stay positive.

St. Olaf political science professor Dan Hofrenning recently spoke to the Rotary Club and described how “social science shows that as Americans do fewer things as a group, social capital and trust decline, and negative impressions of each other and our government increase.”   I’d like to think that living in a small town is a kind of antidote to that trend; we see each other in the grocery store, on Bridge Square, at our kids’ sports events.  We know people who don’t agree with us and, for the most part, we still get along.

Regardless of what happened on Tuesday, Northfield is still our home, an open, safe, and welcoming community where we together create an excellent quality of life.  It is a place where we can have real conversations about the things that matter to our day-to-day life, finding common ground among differences of opinion.  It’s a place where we can develop those relationships that can start to counter the larger trend of more and more divisiveness.

Northfield is a wonderful small town.  We also have room for improvement.  Our recreational and arts facilities can and should be better.  We need to increase the number of businesses here, and better support those already here.  We need to handle our diversity better and make housing more affordable. Each of us can help do all these, and more.  We have amazing, talented people in this town. I often wonder what would happen if we harnessed all that energy, talent, and skill for the good of the community?  What if the farmer and the professor had a conversation about how to make Northfield better?  What if the artist and the laborer set about to work together for the good of their neighborhood?  What would happen if all 20,000 of us were ambassadors for our community?

As I write this, I’m in the midst of my annual job of filling positions on City committees, trying to channel all our talent into the places where they can do amazing things.  All year, our many nonprofits look for volunteers and board members, to help them continue their great work.  And who knows how many brilliant entrepreneurial ideas are out there waiting to be formulated and put into action for the greater good of our community?  I get excited every time someone new wants to get involved in Northfield, because it seems to be one more step away from divisiveness.

I am committed to encouraging civil discourse and civic engagement by and for all. I hope you’ll join me in working together to find common ground to move our community forward.  It’s one more step in building a stronger community.

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