Note to our readers: This column is part of a series from a blog recently started by a loosely knit independent group of area business people and residents who love and want to promote the energy and enthusiasm of downtown St. Joseph: The Joe Town Vibe. To find the column online or to read web-exclusive blogs posted every Tuesday please visit joetownvibe.com.
by John Stevens
Intern SJU ’18
Leaving the state of a community entirely up to elected officials is a mistake often made in communities. If you see a problem or have an idea, don’t just keep it to yourself; reach out and try to get that problem solved or that project started. Local governments have long struggled to find ways to connect with the community. Most city council meetings have only a few visitors, and St. Joseph is no different.
Almost every small town across America struggles with this problem. The solution to this problem is easier than it may appear. In large cities and metropolitan areas city governments will create community outreach programs and systems to get the feedback of the community members. In a small town the solution is simpler, and the responsibility falls on you, the active community member.
If you want to make a difference in your community, you need to start by being involved in the community. If you don’t reach out, there is no way for those elected to serve the community to know about your needs and wants. If you think that there needs to be a crosswalk on an intersection near your house, then let your city council know.
People often offer up the excuse “nothing ever gets done,” and that’s the reason they don’t go to city council meetings. Taking this approach is at times understandable but is also misplaced. Local government is entirely in place to improve the community and maintain the services it provides. The budget of a local government can at times prevent projects from being completed quickly, but losing faith is a huge mistake.
Continuing to be involved in your local community is the best way of speeding up the process, or at least getting the projects started. Continuing to voice support is the best way of letting the city know of your interest for a project. St. Joseph is successful and continuing that success starts with improved community engagement.