May 28, 2014

Behind the Scenes at Ladies' Night

Wow, what a great night! Our neighborhood represented well, and we had a great turnout. I'm not exactly the queen of social events, but it was so great to have the women I know and love (thanks for coming, Mom!) visit in my home and share with each other and the Mayor our thoughts about the city.

I felt bad; the Mayor was recovering from an emergency root canal earlier that day, but he soldiered on, looking sporty in his dashing orange-checked shirt with checked suit ensemble. (Had to put that in there as a nod to gender equality--we always hear what female politicians wear to events :)

I was glad that three women brought their toddlers and got involved even with small kids. If they can do it, you can! Especially given the late hour, I thought all three kids did great.

As a little bonus to the night, all my random renovation projects for the next couple of months got done early--nothing like the mayor coming to your house to give you a kick in the pants!

The mayor should be posting this on the city blog soon, but I just wanted to share with the neighborhood the report from the evening. Here it is:

Ladies' Night with the Mayor!

Moving back to Provo last year, I found that a lot of changes were happening in the city. Downtown had gotten a lot more interesting, residents had discovered that the great outdoors was within walking distance, and a new recreation center had transformed an entire section of the city. Little old Provo had morphed, like an awkward middle-schooler suddenly becoming a confident sports star in high school.

However, I was worried that Provo was stuck in past when it came to women. I’ve read some negative articles recently about women’s pay and the lack of women in politics here. Were women’s voices being heard when it came to the important issues in the city?  I emailed Mayor Curtis and expressed my concerns to him, and was pleasantly surprised by a quick response. He acknowledged that the city could always do better and suggested that I get a group of women together to meet with him about getting involved in the city and making a difference. So per his proposal, I hosted Ladies’ Night with the Mayor—a fun way for women to move from a vague interest in the community and complaining about problems to taking action.

Our group included the Mayor, 17 women, and three toddlers. First the mayor shared how women were already involved in the city in a positive way, and then he discussed how we could start our personal involvement in the city. I thought the questions he brought up were great for everyone to consider. He suggested we ask ourselves: “What bugs me about the city?”, “What can I improve in the city?”, and “What are my natural talents and abilities?” The answers to these questions can be a good guide to narrow down an area where we can make a difference.
We discussed using the Internet to get involved by contacting our city council members, following them on their Facebook pages, joining various Provo Facebook pages, following the mayor’s blog and city council blog, and various specialty groups within Provo. We also talked about our volunteer work, the groups that we are involved in, and our topics of interest as women. We even had time to dive into our random questions, touching on a wide range of topics—the city 311 line, recycle cans, the mechanics of the city council, Dumpster Days, zoning, and the new school bond. We covered a lot of ground in an hour! I enjoyed the practical suggestions such as shortening city council meetings, calling 311 when we see an overflo​wing recycling dumpster, and contacting city council members as a place to start with neighborhood questions.  
Hopefully everyone left with some good ideas. A lot of the women that I talked to about coming to Ladies’ Night were unexpectedly interested in what’s going on in the city. I thought that maybe women here just didn’t care, but I think that many just don’t know where to get started.  Most decisions are better when the people affected by them help to make them—we women need to get involved in Provo City so we can make and influence the decisions that directly affect us. Ladies’ Night provided an opportunity for us to hear what women are doing now, learn how women can get involved even more, and draw more women into the general process of making Provo a great city. Thanks, Mayor!


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