Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in DakotaCounty’s Redesigning MN conversation, sponsored by the Bush Foundation with InCommons. The event brought together more than 25 people from various perspectives and persuasions to explore the threats of the “New Normal” and the potential of redesign for people in our communities.
What is the “New Normal”? I would offer this short definition: changes in our demographics, and particularly our society’s aging, that are set to have significant and lasting impacts on the demand for public services. The effects of these changes will be felt across our federal, state and local governments, and will require new approaches to delivering public services if we are going to preserve the outcomes we want as a society.
At the event, we talked about what the “New Normal” means for Dakota County, for our communities and for each of us as people committed to the future of our community. We found great examples of collaboration and redesign already underway in the county. And, equally important, we found a common interest in exploring new approaches to addressing this unparalleled community challenge.
I believe that community involvement can be part of our solutions to the problems presented by the “New Normal” today, too. Granted, our challenges are different. Community is no longer defined solely by our neighborhood or city. Instead, many people – and particularly our young generations and future leaders – are finding a new sense of community online by connecting with others who share an interest or passion. These new definitions of community offer opportunities to create new venues where generations can come together to understand and address challenges presented by the “New Normal.” This is a “New Normal,” but I would suggest it’s not the first time society has faced such challenges. Toward the end of the 19th century our nation learned to live with the changes sparked by the industrial revolution. The biggest driver of that transition was an amazing growth in community involvement in cities across the nation.
I believe we are seeing a growing demand for community solutions right here in Burnsville. It’s a growing movement that we talked about at length during the Redesigning MN conversation. The event was an important step in igniting the community’s awareness of redesign.
I am excited that the Bush Foundation and InCommons are sharing their commitment to igniting important community conversations to solve community challenges with engaged citizens like me.
Godan Nambudiripad is a former engineer and community organizer in Burnsville, Minnesota.
The Dakota County Redesigning MN event was one of three community conversations hosted by InCommons in collaboration with local partners. The events brought together more than 70 Minnesotans to share ideas and perspectives on redesign’s potential for the state’s future. A TPT documentary by the same name served as an anchor for the conversations, and footage of the events will be featured in upcoming documentaries about redesign’s potential for solutions in transportation, education, public safety and other issues. See the documentary and keep up on developments in this project at RedesigningMN.org.
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