Friday, July 15, 2016

Day Two at the Annual Meeting - fun, love and generational trends

Downtown Charleston’s Riviera Theatre was the venue for today’s opening general session. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenberg greeted the 600+ officials welcoming them to the Holy City and reflecting on the legacy of his predecessor, Mayor Riley.

Mayor Tecklenburg offered some thoughts about last year’s mass shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME church and called on local officials to recognize “an obligation to love and to share that love with our citizens.”

Some have called the aftermath of the shooting an opportunity to make positive changes. “It’s not an opportunity. It’s a responsibility,” Mayor Tecklenberg said. “It’s an obligation on our part to do something to improve our communities, our cities, our towns.”

The morning’s opening general session agenda also recognized the new graduates of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government and included the election of officers and board members.

Two keynote speakers pooled their perspectives on bridging the gap between generations.

Keep it short
Curt Steinhorst, an expert on embracing generational trends and differences, said city and towns must adapt to the ways millennials are communicating. 

There are lots of reason for this. For starters, said the president and founder of Promentum Group, older residents are beginning to use technology in the same ways as younger folks. In other words, if you ignore the younger generation today, you will lose them as they grow older.

Curt gave a few tips:
•    Make city processes faster and easier. For instance, to improve parking, offer an app to pay to park. If the parking-payment system seems intimidating, teach users how to pay with a quick YouTube video.
•    Keep communications short. Younger residents might pay most attention to an email with a subject line that they perceive as relevant to them.
•    Use bulleted lists. Don’t over communicate.
•    Remember a telephone call is often perceived as a rude interruption by a millennial.

'Where is the fun?'
After Curt’s lively and information-packed talk came self-described “city love guy” Peter Kageyama. The community development specialist and author said cities are “obsessed with potholes”—a problem that certainly must be addressed—but city leaders should also ask, “Where is the fun?”

Peter Kagemaya
Peter pointed to several cities around the country that are doing little things to bring generations together. He argued that millennials and seniors often want the same benefits from cities, just at different times of day. Among his examples:

•    In East Lansing, Michigan, officials turned an old school into senior housing. The location of the building placed older residents in the same neighborhood as college students, which encouraged the two age groups interact.
•    At Falls Park in Greenville, SC, residents now use the space—formerly a bridge—for weddings, yoga classes and other activities, turning the park into “a social capital generator.”
•    Dog parks are a great way to bring generations together.

The delegates' lunch hosted Pulitzer prize-winner—and Camden native—Kathleen Parker, who brought her perspective to the presidential race.
Kathleen Parker
Look for more detail on the Annual Meeting in the August/September issue of Uptown.

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