We have the strength we need to address our biggest challenges: climate change, workforce, public safety, community trust, equity, to name some of them. To meet those challenges successfully, we are going to need our greatest strength: our people and every bit of talent and every ounce of genius we have got. All of that genius is right here, ready to build our economic future, and our city’s future. The question before us is: how much of that genius are we going to leave on the table?
This is the question I posed in the speech I delivered last Thursday in my State of the City address at the American Swedish Institute. You can watch the speech here.
We need each one of us, including our young people.
My Cradle to K Cabinet is moving into implementation mode, to make sure that every bit of talent and genius our community has to offer is nurtured, starting at the very beginning of life. Our final recommendations will be ready in mid-May. The whole community will be invited to do whatever each of us can do to make a difference for our youngest kids.
The welfare of boys and young men of color is also crucial to the future of our society. With the President’s My Brothers’ Keeper Community Challenge, we are focusing on improving outcomes for 18- to 24-year old men of color.
Too often our stories show the worst rather than the best in our young men. We hear a lot of stories about young men who are behaving poorly, young men who commit crimes. What we don’t hear are the success stories.
I invite you to share your stories of success of young men and boys of color on my website, so we can be reminded how much genius is carried in every single brain, how much passion and compassion is in every single heart, how much possibility there is in every single life.
We can all ensure our young people are ready to lead by making a personal commitment to help kids succeed. Please consider being a graduation coach to mentor a Minneapolis public high school student through Achieve Minneapolis.
Each one of us has a gift to offer the next generation, and today is a call to you to use your gift. If Cradle to K is about making sure we are nurturing our genius even before early education starts, graduation coaching is about believing no genius should be left on the table as a young person takes her first steps out of her high school’s doors.
We don’t just need to build the workforce of the future, we need to build the workplace of the future. The expectation that if you worked hard you could get ahead is now more myth than reality for low-income people and many people of color. Even in Minneapolis, where we are famous for our class mobility, the mobility becomes very limited when we start looking at outcomes for people of color.
The growing income inequality in our economy has devastating economic effects, and devastating social and moral effects as well. It hurts all of us, no matter our income, gender, or race.
I am proud to announce that I, in cooperation with Council Members, advocates, and the business community, am championing a Minneapolis Working Families Agenda. Together, we will address three key issues that our workers are facing, especially our low-income workers: fair scheduling, wage theft, and earned sick and safe leave.
Sometimes getting our genius to the table means getting out of our own way.
Last year in the State of the City address, I announced Minneapolis: Business Made Simple, a project to examine all the places where we as a city get in the way of people investing in Minneapolis. After talking with business owners and reviewing our policies, practices and ordinances, we have created a set of recommendations for how we as a city can change how we do our business that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to do their business. We are now ready to move ahead with implementing these recommendations.
Each one of us can do something here to stop the progress of climate change. Each one of us has a gift to offer the process. Each one of us has something we can do, that we choose to do, to make sure we have a healthy planet and healthy people.
I invite each of you to join me in the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge. Each month I will take on the challenge of new behaviors and habits. Learn more and participate in the challenges at the Facebook page: Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge.
I am excited to announce that the process for creating the city’s zero waste plan is underway. Council Members Kevin Reich, Cam Gordon, Linea Palmisano, Alondra Cano, and I convened the Policy Work Group in March to kick off a year-long planning process to move Minneapolis toward zero waste. Our goal is to come up with a plan that will help everyone who lives and works in Minneapolis recycle more and throw away less.
Our common future depends on our ability to sustain a strong economy and strong community. Our common future depends on having a population that is healthy, housed, educated, and contributing to the economy. Our common future depends on no life outcomes being determined by race, class, or zip code. Our common future depends on all of our genius being on the table.
Because we can’t do this without you, Minneapolis. Everyone must be in this picture or we will not be One Minneapolis.
Knowing that, the answer to today’s question is an easy one for all of us. How much genius do we want to leave on the table? How much are we willing to sacrifice our future prosperity because we struggle to muster the courage to head into a future that is thus far uncharted? None. None at all.