CSF Community Conversations

Do you wish you could dispel myths that may exist about city finances in your community? Would you like guidance with facilitating a civil dialogue about key city issues? How can you create a contact list of informed residents that you could tap for commissions, focus groups, town-hall style discussions, or other events?

League staff can work with you to raise awareness among your residents about services cities provide and how they fund those services. It can include information on critical issues facing Minnesota cities.

Reach out to LMC, and we will visit your city to present information tailored to your community. We’ll visit with your local community groups—Rotary Clubs, neighborhood associations, church groups, senior citizen groups, etc.—and bring information directly to them at locations where they convene.

You’ll end up with a more informed citizen base, residents will feel empowered to speak up and become engaged, and your local community groups will strengthen their relationships with both the city government and the residents. For more information, contact LMC Policy Analysis Manager Rachel Walker at (651) 281-1236 or rwalker@lmc.org.

Report on Community Conversations: Phase I

After hearing the ideas and opinions of more than 730 Minnesota residents from 12 cities, the League published a report of findings from the Community Conversations that were held in 2011 as part of the “Cities, Services, and Funding” initiative.

About the Community Conversations
A total of 40 cities submitted applications to be considered as host communities for the Community Conversations phase of the “Cities, Services & Funding” initiative. From those, the League chose 12 sites based on ability to identify and engage community partnering groups that could supply participants, on population size, and on geographic location. Those cities were Austin, Bemidji, Circle Pines, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Eveleth, Hastings, Moorhead, Northfield, St. Cloud, St. James, and St. Paul.

Four conversations with city residents were held in each location over the months of May through October of 2011. The first conversation in each city dealt with the services cities provide and resident service preferences; the second with how services are delivered and resident preferences for service delivery; and the third with how services are paid for and resident funding preferences. The fourth meeting addressed values and considerations that participants would like city and state officials to keep in mind when making tough choices about budgeting for services.

In April of 2012, the League held a series of customized conversations in International Falls that addressed subject areas more specific to that city.

Community Conversations videos
The League's three short videos about the Conversations, produced by Haberman Storytellers, have been posted to YouTube. Each video is approximately five to six minutes in length.

In August, KSMQ-TV in Austin filmed segments of the fourth and final conversation in that city for use in a documentary about the Cities, Services & Funding initiative.

Production of the videos and publication of the report of findings were made possible, in part, by a grant from the Bush Foundation’s InCommons initiative.

PowerPoint helps cities explain findings from Community Conversations
League staff returned to all of the cities that hosted Community Conversations to share the report and talk about what we heard from Minnesotans. We have developed a brief PowerPoint presentation available to all cities for use in sharing the findings with councilmembers, city staff, and the public. There are several areas noted throughout the presentation where cities should add some specific examples about their own fiscal challenges and budget-balancing strategies.