Monday, December 3, 2007


I received this from Don Osenbaugh last week. It comes from Amazing Cities newsletter.

Bad things sometime happen in spite of everything we do. Although we can't change the situation, we can change how we react to what happens. When the snow is falling and three of the six snow plows are broken, don't spend time crying. Make a plan and get busy. Get out front and don't let them see you sweat. Rearrange the schedules and communicate. You will find that a positive attitude can take the place of five or six snow plows.

· Get organized. So many cities are like so many individuals. Junk stacks up and takes up more and more space and time. Do a "house cleaning". Get rid of old equipment and unneeded vehicles. Some cities have discovered that they can significantly reduce insurance costs by cleaning out unused or obsolete equipment.

· Make meetings enjoyable. Sure there are serious issues facing your city, but treating everything as a crisis wears down even the most positive people. Lighten Up. You will find that even the most hardened citizen will soften if the mood is a little lighter. Be serious when it is warranted, but don't conduct your meetings as the Watergate hearings.

Surround your city with inspiration. On your website, in City Hall, at your parks, place positive messages that create a feeling that your city is a place that cherishes positive attitudes. Instead of a sign that says "Do Not Litter" consider one that states, "Our Citizens Love A Clean City". Doesn't the message still come across?
Write handwritten notes to citizens and employees. We send so many form letters that citizens feel disconnected from the governing process. You would be surprised how many positive comments I receive when I send a handwritten note to a citizen. Don't forget to acknowledge younger citizens for their accomplishments.

· Practice Empathy. Try to understand what it is like to be in someone else's shoes. Reflect back to them how you think they are feeling, such as "It sounds like that was a difficult situation for you." Remember that empathy does not mean that you accept blame, only that you can relate to how someone feels. Let's face it, we can all relate to a basement full of raw sewage, even when the engineer says that it wasn't the city's fault

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