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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Sep 11

September 11, 2020

Posted on September 11, 2020 at 2:26 PM by Niyah Ross

We are all heartbroken this week, anxious about the future and profoundly saddened by the losses of lives, homes, businesses, forests and all their wild inhabitants.  On this anniversary when we recall the deep loss and the extraordinary heroism of first responders on 9/11/2001, we are again at a loss for words in our gratitude to the firefighters, police, National Guard, health providers, and scores of community volunteers who strive to save lives and keep us whole.

Each new crisis this year has washed over the on-going crises in a thundering cascade.  Homelessness was already skyrocketing and overwhelming; then COVID-19 deepened that crisis; and now fires and smoky air add to the suffering.  We are experiencing one deeply stressful experience after another.  We must allow ourselves to grieve and struggle – the stress will not be relieved quickly.  We need to offer one another a little grace in this time; and that begins with offering ourselves a little grace.  No single person carries the burden, the power to fix, the responsibility to recover.  Reaching out with our strengths, skills, wisdom and energy will help us all take the next step.  Have courage.  We will recover together.

Remember that behind the life-saving work of the firefighters and other first responders, the community carries on.  City staff continue to work on public works projects, on developing housing and solutions to homelessness, on climate change, and on rebuilding our spirits with cultural offerings of music, art and literature.  Black Lives Matter activists are turning their attention to assisting people struggling in poverty and loss due to the fires. Neighborhood associations are exploring racism and assessing their role in equity.  City staff are discussing “belonging” and what it takes to feel fully a member of the community.  Sustainability Commission members are connecting the dots between climate change and equity. Planning Commissioners, staff and Council are delving into our growth as a community – where and how do we accommodate more people; and where do we begin to see room to expand.  

Council this past week reviewed progress on the negotiations with NW Natural, particularly with respect to our climate goals.  Coming up, they will talk about compensation for the diverse members of the Ad Hoc Committee on police policies, and the workshops to review the Community Safety Initiative.  This is all legacy work.  As we recover from this traumatic year, we have an opportunity to not simply rebuild the community we had, we can build the community we want for the future.  New trees will grow; new children will be born; people will fall in love; and we’ll be a stronger unified community.