HILLSBORO CIVIC LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
This fall I participated in Hillsboro’s Civic Leadership Academy, an experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone in rewarding ways and which challenged me to think about issues affecting our City I had not considered before. Over the course of six weeks we learned about leadership concepts and applied them to an issue referred to us by the City Council – in this case redistricting the City Council ward boundaries (because I don’t have enough redistricting on my resume already!). Last week we gave our presentation to the City Council, who will take our recommendations into consideration as they move forward.
The most important piece of all this was hearing my fellow participants’ perspectives and working through the issues and key criteria until we came to unanimous consensus. The importance of listening and hearing others’ lived experiences cannot be overstated. Over the course of this short time, we went from being strangers in an unfamiliar environment to a group working toward a common goal, having built trust and shown personal vulnerability in ways I had not expected when we began this process. This was – and is – a truly incredible group of people, with each individual member contributing value to the whole.
Early during the session I find most memorable, we were asked to think of a time we felt represented. Some answers included “never,” which kick-started some potent conversations among us. Later on, the instructors had us take pieces of paper and write down groups we personally identify with, writing a single category per page. After we taped our results to the board, the instructors challenged us to identify those NOT represented in the room. Our assignment for the next week was to go into the community, speak to representative(s) of one or more of those groups, discuss our project with them, and bring their perspectives back for consideration. This admittedly intimidating experience was a vivid reminder of our community’s diversity, both seen and unseen.
I encourage all of you who have the opportunity to volunteer or get involved to do so. I completely understand that can sound trite or seem daunting; pushing my boundaries to pursue this activity was not easy but was absolutely worth it, and I am grateful to everyone involved. But even seemingly simple things like helping out at the library or attending a Council meeting can help normalize participation, inspiring new voices to join in.