At its April 27 worksession, the Council discussed the NDDC’s Community Expectations policy (read the last page of the Council packet) and it’s still being duscussed over on Locally Grown. I was generally in favor of this policy at the worksession because I want to create the impression that I can be nice sometimes and because the expectations are good ones: that downtown will be a clean, safe place where we treat each other with respect.
City government can do a few things like providing places and facilities for people to meet and socialize, especially our young people. Trash cans and other simple items can help keep things clean. Law enforcement has a role, too, although I get nervous about having the police attempt to enforce “expectations” rather than laws.
But mostly, Ruth Amerman, President of the Key Youth Board, got it right in her comment on Locally Grown. The solution is grass roots and from the bottom up, not imposed by the city. Ruth says: “While I’m not a Northfield Business owner, as President of the Northfield Union of Youth I’ve had to deal with kids who have been disrespectful before, and while it’s not perfect, you want to know what I’ve found to be the best way to deal with these problems? Talking to the kids that cause them. And I mean really talking to them, about how we feel and then really LISTENING to them.”
I also think we could help our young people by raising our expectations of them – that is, expecting that they will succeed and will make valuable contributions to the community and then helping them reach those goals rather than expecting that young people will cause trouble.