Back to the Nov-Dec 2020 issue

Bits & Briefs

Socially Distanced, Masked Meetups

People standing six feet apart.
LMC President Brad Wiersum, far left, and city officials from Hinckley, Pine City, Sandstone, Braham make sure they are at least 6 feet apart at the meeting in Hinckley.

League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Executive Director David Unmacht, Deputy Director Luke Fischer, and a rotating cast of characters from staff and LMC boards hit the road this fall for a marathon of mini meetups across the state. In nearly 40 locations, small groups of city officials gathered to have socially distanced conversations about the issues affecting their communities. Topics were far-ranging, addressing everything from broadband to public safety. Thank you to all the cities that hosted a gathering and all the city officials who masked up for these informative and meaningful conversations — and one game of “City Jeopardy” in Centerville!


Foley Supports Walk to School Day

Kids walking to school.The City of Foley teamed up with the school district and Benton County to support Walk to School Day, recognized globally in October. City Hall opened up an hour late so that councilmembers and staff could join in with city police to help out at busy intersections and join the stroll to promote walking and biking to school. Benton County Public Health provided goody bags for kids who participated. Learn more at www.walkbiketoschool.org.


City Sponsors Special Winter Solstice Activity

Holiday votive candlesThe holidays may look a little different this year for your residents, but the longest night of the year — the winter solstice — will arrive reliably as ever Dec. 21 to welcome the gradual lengthening of days. To offer up a special experience to residents, consider a solstice walk like St. Louis Park did at their Westwood Hills Nature Center last year. All you need is a trail lit by luminaries and halfway decent weather (it could happen). St. Louis Park called their event the “Be the Light Winter Solstice Walk” and dedicated the event to mental health awareness.


PTSD and Mental Health Toolkit for Public Safety

PTSD and Mental Health ToolkitWhat can public safety leaders do to support the mental health of their personnel? A whole lot. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) has developed the online PTSD & Mental Health Toolkit to help you with ideas, information, and resources to get started or further your efforts in supporting the mental health of your public safety officers. Due to the nature of their job duties, public safety officers may be at increased risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD and other mental health conditions should not be stigmatized. They are treatable and, in many cases, preventable. Check the toolkit for information on topics such as suicide prevention, mental health programs, how to create a supportive environment, and more. For more information, view the toolkit at www.lmc.org/mhtoolkit or contact LMCIT Public Safety Coordinator Lora Setter at lsetter@lmc. org.


Here Comes the Sun

The sun with words "here comes the sun"The award-winning “Grow Solar” Local Government Toolkit was recently updated to help your city get ready for solar development and reach your energy goals. This resource was first developed in 2017 by the Great Plains Institute (GPI, a partner of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program).

The toolkit includes an updated model ordinance and policy considerations that will help you address solar projects while also meeting your community’s other goals related to things like water quality, protecting rural landscape, or helping agriculture. These updates reflect the real-world questions and answers being developed by communities doing the work, said Brian Ross, GPI’s senior program director. The toolkit also provides information on how to address solar in comprehensive planning and zoning. View the toolkit at http://bit.ly/solar-toolkit.


30 Years of Military Service Recognized

League of Minnesota Cities Defense Litigation Supervisor Ryan Zipf in uniformLeague of Minnesota Cities Defense Litigation Supervisor Ryan Zipf retired this fall from the U.S. Army Reserves after 30 years of service. Col. Zipf most recently served as chief counsel for the 63rd Readiness Division in Mountain View, California, leading and supervising 15 attorneys and paralegals. During his service, he also served as commander of the 9th Legal Operations Detachment in Columbus, Ohio, and deployed to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 with the 372nd Engineer Brigade.

Despite the formal conclusion of his service to our country, Zipf has no plans for retirement from the League, and will continue to serve Minnesota cities in his role as in-house litigation supervisor. “I could not have served in the Army Reserves for so long in demanding positions without the outstanding support from my family and the League,” said Zipf.

For the second year in a row, the League was one of 30 finalists (out of approximately 2,600 applications) for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which is the highest recognition employers can receive for their support of employees serving in the Guard or Reserves.


Practicing Gratitude

’Tis the season to give thanks, and our brains may need it more than ever. Practicing gratitude uses the same part of the brain that would otherwise be busy churning out negative emotions like anxiousness and fear. Want to share the gratitude attitude in your daily interactions? Try the “Gratitude 1-2-3,” coined by Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., science director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. It goes something like this:

  • The word "grateful."Instead of just saying “Thanks!” to someone, share specifically what you are thanking them for — cleaning out a storage closet or completing a research request, for example.
  • Acknowledge and call out the kind of effort they made — scrubbing down old equipment, running database searches.
  • Describe why it makes a difference for you — it speeds up the process of taking inventory, helps you put together the council packet.

Result? “Thank you for completing that research request! I know you had to really dig through the files to get that info. This will help me update the council about the history of the project.” Cue good vibes.