2017 Annual Conference: Educational Session Descriptions


Choose Your Sessions

Educational Sessions #1
Thursday, June 15—10:15-11:15 a.m.

Session Track: Creating Inclusive Communities
Advancing Racial Equity
None of us are intentionally racist. But how aware are we of the history of race in America and how biases that are built into all institutions, including our city governments, may be perpetuating disparate outcomes for communities of color? Most importantly, what can city officials do to start making changes that matter?

Session Track: Building Community Capacity
Growing Social Capital
Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, warns that social capital—strong relationships and connections among residents—has declined, leading to increasing isolation from our families, communities, and the political process. Hear why social capital is critical, explore why we are losing it, and discover practical ways to rebuild social capital in your community.

Session Track: Planning for the Future
Using Data in City Planning & Decision Making
Cities are leveraging a sea of government data to improve the efficiency of city operations and service delivery—and advocate for critical infrastructure investments. Explore examples, like a more modern 911 system, using maps and data for annexation projections or school district boundaries, as well as how data can be used to support border to border broadband deployment in Minnesota.

Session Track: Creating Inclusive Communities
Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide
How can we bridge the growing urban-rural rift and strengthen the bonds that bind us together as ‘One Minnesota’? Recognize the interdependence between the metro and Greater Minnesota and explore the warning signs that threaten the socio-economic progress of our whole state. Hear about efforts to close the gaps between rural and urban interests and embrace constructive investments in all our people and places.

Session Track: Planning for the Future
Building Strong, Sustainable Communities
Cities are leading the way when it comes to advancing energy, water, economic, and environmental practices. More than 100 cities—representing 40 percent of Minnesota's population—are now part of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Hear how many communities, including small cities, are advancing sustainability goals, reducing costs through energy and water savings, and promoting community resilience to help residents prepare for and adapt to unforeseen weather, social, and economic changes.

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Educational Sessions #2
Thursday, June 15—2:30-3:30 p.m.

Session Track: Communication & Engagement
Preparing for the Unknown: Crisis Communications
When you’re faced with a public crisis, timely, frequent communication is critical. During this session, explore the components of an effective crisis response, including critical first steps, managing the victim dimension, dealing with the media, and specific roles for leaders and managers. You’ll also discover the seven common behaviors that can lead to trouble and what you can do to prevent them. Finally, learn how to prepare your city for the visibility that will inevitably happen in a crisis and specific techniques to protect your reputation and maintain trust.

Session Track: Creating Inclusive Communities
Implicit Bias to Inclusive Mindset
Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. All humans are biased. It is part of how our nervous system is wired to survive. Each of us acts on our implicit biases, often without realizing it, or understanding where they came from. Learn how to foster an inclusive mindset by recognizing our own invisible biases, come to understand the connections between bias and injustice, and commit to personal practices that align our actions towards inclusion and equity.

Session Track: Planning for Your Future
Climate Smart Municipalities
Interested in a few good ideas on how your city can think differently about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resilience? Join us for an exciting panel discussion with representatives of the five MN cities that are part of the Climate-Smart Municipalities partnership with Germany. Turn the experiences of the cities of Warren, Morris, Duluth, Elk River, and Rochester into a practical resource for your own city.

Session Track: Building Community Capacity
Quantum Civics: Collaborative Leadership for Better Results
Do you find yourself wondering, ‘Why are we stuck when it comes to policy, politics, and civic leadership?’ Learn about a new approach to policymaking that can help you get ‘un-stuck’ by recognizing a role for everyone. Explore what city officials can do to cultivate civic leaders in their communities and how a more collaborative public leadership model can provide a way out of our political and policy impasse.

Session Track: Communication & Engagement
Strategies for Positive Community and NIMBY Relationships
When residents feel that their property values, way of life or safety might be jeopardized, you hear from them. Solar gardens, gravel mines, group homes, hog farms, and more, trigger reactions that every city can prepare for. This session taps into the observations of a long-time daily newspaper editor, a city park and recreation director, and an aggregate mining manager. They’ll talk about what works and doesn’t work when interacting with and informing residents, using specific examples to make their points. The session will be conversational and interactive, tapping into the wisdom of the crowd. With audience assistance, we’ll develop a list of best practices for addressing community and NIMBY challenges.

By the end of the session, you'll be able to:

  • Anticipate and address community concerns about new projects and changing needs
  • Spot and deal with the emergence of a passionate NIMBY group
  • Support local reporters in their coverage of your city projects and policies
  • Prepare for and meet with an editorial board
  • Work with a checklist of best practices for your next community “hot button” issue.

Session Track: Planning for the Future/Business Leadership Council
Investing in Infrastructure: Public-Private Partnerships
At the national level, we hear about how Public-Private Partnerships (P3’s) may bring new resources to the problem of funding city facilities and infrastructure. This session will take away the mystique around P3’s and explore how your community might leverage the private sector to achieve your goals. Hear about real-life Minnesota examples and, through these case studies, learn the risks and benefits of partnering with the private sector and how the P3 helped each community.


Educational Sessions #3
Thursday, June 15—3:45-4:30 p.m.

Session Track: Communication & Engagement
Preparing for the Unknown: Crisis Communications (cont.)

Session Track: Creating Inclusive Communities
Becoming Culturally Competent
Providing high quality services in our increasingly diverse communities requires that city leaders understand the perspectives, experiences, and cultural backgrounds of those who make up the community. Cultural competency is also important to effectively engage all residents in city planning and decision-making. During this session, explore your own level of cultural competence and ways your city can be more responsive to the needs of your entire community.

Session Track: Reinventing Local Government
Risk Management for New Police Technology
From drones and body cameras to new radar devices and surveillance tools, new police technologies have tremendous potential to prevent and combat crime, make officers’ jobs easier and safer, and increase transparency and accountability. However, using these technologies can also raise several legal and privacy issues. Find out what your city needs to be thinking about before deploying these new police technologies in your community.

Session Track: Reinventing Local Government/Business Leadership Council
The Future City Workforce
In many cities, both large and small, close to half of the city workforce is nearing retirement. How should your city plan for projected workforce shortages due to this age wave? What can you do to attract the next generation to public service and advance women into higher level local government positions? Hear from city officials about different ways to do jobs, updated recruitment efforts and employment practices, and how to effectively transfer organizational knowledge. Ask questions and discuss your city workforce challenges!

Session Track: Creating Inclusive Communities/Business Leadership Council
Community Art for Livable, Vibrant Cities
Cities today, both large and small, are facing tremendous demographic, economic, and societal change. Even as progress is made, persistent issues and challenges remain in responding to this change, particularly in reaching and serving populations that are not already well-connected. While art has been part of city building since the first town square statue, there’s a new and innovative direction in bringing artistic practice and thought into city processes. Cities are now working with artists and artist-designed tools in creative community engagement for community plans and projects. Hear how artists increase involvement of underrepresented communities, tackle tough issues, and make a positive difference. Learn how this can work in your community to make it a more livable, vibrant, and inclusive place.

Session Track: Planning for the Future/Business Leadership Council
Investing in Infrastructure: Financing Tools and Strategies
The costs of street reconstruction, utility replacement, parks and public facilities can result in sticker shock for residents and elected officials who are looking for new ways to pay for projects. To help solve this problem, a few cities have contemplated a referendum to raise property taxes to pay for park and other infrastructure investments. Other cities assess 100% of the street costs. More recently, cities have turned to increases in franchise fees to pay for infrastructure repair. This session will explore some creative solutions using the legal options available for paying for streets, utilities, and public buildings. You will profile examples of communities’ successful efforts to build public support for infrastructure funding, and learn how and why they chose the funding mechanisms they did.

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Educational Sessions #4
Friday, June 16—9-10 a.m.

Session Track: Business Leadership Council
Hot Legal Topics: City Attorney Q & A
What are the impacts of wireless provider facilities in the right of way, temporary healthcare dwellings, and overly broad data practices requests for cities? Find out the latest developments on these and other hot legal issues and get your questions answered by a panel of city attorneys.

Session Track: Creating Inclusive Communities
Supporting New Americans in our Communities
Settling into a new community can be difficult, especially for those coming to Minnesota from another country. Cultural, language, and financial barriers are just some of the challenges to starting the new life that refugees and immigrants are seeking. Learn about several programs and partnerships that have helped people arriving from other countries transition successfully to life in Minnesota, and discover how you and your community play a part in this transition.

Session Track: Communication & Engagement
Communicating City Spending Information to the Public
Many cities struggle to explain complex budget and financial information to taxpayers in an understandable way. Hear from a couple of cities that have implemented voluntary modifications to their financial reporting allowing taxpayers to receive more information on items such as employee compensation, pensions, health care, and other costs.

Session Track: Reinventing Local Government
Boosting Employee Engagement and Productivity
Employee engagement is linked to all kinds of good things: productivity, retention, creativity, and customer communication, to mention just a few. So how can you make employee engagement part of your city’s workplace culture without adding a lot of cost and effort? Hear from cities that are addressing employee engagement in creative ways!

Session Track: Building Community Capacity
Act like a City, Think like an Emerging Leader
Don’t let your city enter the next election with an empty seat on the ballot! Consider a new, intergenerational approach to attracting civic leaders. Meet two passionate and diverse emerging leaders who will share their experience running for public office in 2016. Then, leave this session with a “Top 10 List” of ways to engage new and emerging leaders and get inspired to incorporate practical and innovative concepts in your city.

Session Track: Planning for Your Future/Business Leadership Council
Investing in Infrastructure: Using Visualization & Virtual Reality to Improve Project Communication
Construction projects frequently include complicated design details that can be challenging to communicate effectively. Today, advancements in technology have created 3-dimensional visualization techniques that can be used to illustrate project understanding and benefits to the community. See how this technology can enhance how you communicate with residents and local businesses about public improvement projects.

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