19 March 2013

judging books by covers.

Finding Windom has doubled in size in the last month with a group of community members seeking answers and resolutions to an ongoing problem in Windom-the appearance of many of our neighborhoods, including the downtown area.  To be honest, the cleanliness, or lack there of, is one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place.  Just maintaining a clean environment, maintains a thriving, successful environment, which umbrellas all things within a community.  Seems like common knowledge, right?

As frustration excalated among these community members from lack of support from city officials, these frustrated community members gathered together in effort to find a solution--sounds like a job for Finding Windom (this is in our mission statement after all!) and it was decided help from the city officials and leaders was not only wanted, but needed to fix the problem.  After all, the city has ordinances against trash, junk, delapidated housing/buildings, etc, and if they were properly enforced, a chunk of the problem would be taken care of. 

We decided to get on the agenda at the next council meeting in hopes they would listen.  We  were hoping to not just point out the problem, but offer resources to help clean up our city and enforce ordinances to maintain a clean, safe environment.  And so we were on the agenda for tonights city council meeting.

As a speaking member of the group, along with another gentleman, who is also very passionate about beautifying our wonderful community, we sat in front of our city leaders to voice our concerns, solutions and resources.  We had a handful of other community members watching as well.  It felt good to have a crowd!

So you are wondering about the outcome I'm sure.  I was happy to hear the city officials were interested in fixing the problem and that they understand its not just about eye sores, but safety as well.  Did you know that cleanliness and crime go hand in hand?  It's true, there are studies that show by maintaining a clean environment is just as effective as having more police on the streets or bars on windows.  Just take this for an example, methaphetamine drugs were being produced in a building in downtown Windom. Just 2 blocks from my house, across the street from my very own small business, a block from the very place we pay our city bills and gathered to talk about the future of Windom with city officials--drugs literally in our back yard, people.  We have invited this into our community--our downtown, without a head being turned at the root of the problem...cleanliness--the lack of expectations for a superb quality of life or simply put, ordinances set in place to maintain clean safe environments are not being enforced. 

Along with crime, which I feel is the most important reason ordinances for cleanliness need to be enforced, our appearance reflects our character and success as a community.  We want to show visitors what a wonderful community we are, we want to show our pride.  We want more visitors, more businesses, more residents.  We want more families in affordable quality homes and more students in our schools, we want to grow our tax base so we can maintain our ammentities.  All of these things are an effect of a clean environment.  We all judge books by covers and we buy magazines because of what is on the cover, it is the same concept here.  We have to sell Windom to more businesses, more residents, more visitors, and thats easier to do when it just plain looks better.

So with all of this said and with the acceptance of the problem and an agreement that there needs to be a solution by the city council, I'm disappointed to say I don't feel any better after this meeting.  I don't feel reassured the city leaders are prioritizing the issue as they have numerously recorded.  We were so politely brushed off to another "commission" who rarely, if ever, meet to discuss the future of our community.  We were so nicely told there simply isn't funding to take action. But there is always funding if you make it a priority.  It seemed that no one behind the etched name tags behind our city logo seemed to want to dig in first hand to fix the problem or even questioned why things haven't been enforced in the past. I don't know what else to do at this point-I feel hopeless and I hope I'm wrong by feeling so discouraged after this city council meeting.

Did you hear us tonight when we told you that over 150 violations of ordinances have been reported to the city office in the last year? Why is this going unnoticed, unquestioned? In fact, shortly after we spoke, the council was advised by a department head that "people have rights to their things and the city should consult an attorney before enforcing these ordinances," just goes to show the attitude our city portrays to our community's concern, and it is quickly dividing, or maybe already has divided the community and the City of Windom. We have elected you to listen, to plan, to question, to research, and most importantly, to take action. I hope, I pray, something will be done.  There are a group of community members reaching out to help, and I hope the city council reaches right back. 

But, I guess if this is an issue of people's rights as stated by a department head, I have rights too.  I have a right to live in a clean, safe community.  I have a right to raise my child in a community that has high standards for quality of life.  I've dedicated my life to this community, I've built my life in this community, built my business, my family, my faith, and I have a right to protect it, along with all those community members with me tonight.  Thank you to these concerned community members brave enough to protect your quality of life, we need more of you and more importantly, we need an active City to help us protect it. 

more happy times are soon to come I hope,