Sunday I walked in the Woodbury Days Parade with/for JoAnn Ward, local (District 53A) candidate for Minnesota State Legislature.
We were unit 48 of (I understand) over 120 units in this very long parade in the middle of a pretty sultry day.
Speaking for myself, I’d rather be many places other than on display in the middle of a city street, more or less on exhibit.
So, why walk?
(click on photos to enlarge them)
I was delighted when I learned some months ago that JoAnn Ward had agreed to run for the new District 53A legislative seat.
While I’ve lived in Woodbury since 2000, I had met and worked with JoAnn the previous year on a national pilot project called Community Conversations About Public Schools (CCAPS) whose participants included the United Teachers of South Washington County.
The National Education Association was initiator/funder.
I was the staff liaison from Education Minnesota at the time.
Someway or other, JoAnn learned of the project, and became involved as a citizen volunteer, along with other community members, and school district personnel.
Back then, I had one grandchild, age 13, in Littleton Co. Today there are nine, two of them returning to South Washington County schools next week; six others in school in South St. Paul and Rosemount-Apple Valley.
Back in 1999, the Woodbury area community members – all of them, including JoAnn – stood out as really caring about public education in Woodbury and the other towns of ISD #833.
Our purpose, then, was very simple: to help communities practice a process of civil conversation about public education. The project also took place in a number of other school districts around the United States.
I thought of this 1999 event recently when Woodbury resident Kelly DeBrine publicized a community conversation on Taxes in Woodbury.
I attended that meeting as well.
In 1999, CCAPS was a success.
I retired shortly after the last conversation, so I had no opportunity to follow up.
But the CCAPS file is one of the files I kept as I ended my career.
The citizens of South Washington County (Woodbury et al), including JoAnn Ward, were integral to the success of the process (which even then was not simple to initiate for all the kinds of reasons Ms DeBrine and her group doubtless experienced recently.)
Civil conversation – call it whatever one wants – is not an easy process in these politically polarized days where politics have become warfare, played by rules of war.
Even then, in 1999, there was suspicion: what do THEY want?
In reality, I’d been involved in the general initiatives leading to CCAPS for five years by then.
We thought school districts would be healthier if citizens could just talk with each other, rather than work always at dominance and control.
The key unstated word in our project was “we”.
There are never permanent winners in any war; only temporary residents on the top of whatever the hill a combatant wants to reign over.
Back then, now thirteen years ago, JoAnn Ward appeared, volunteered, and quietly worked to make a difference in her long-time town of Woodbury, and the South Washington County School District.
When JoAnn Ward is elected November 6, I can reasonably expect that she will continue to be as she was in 1999, and has shown herself to be since I re-met her this year: a person committed to finding collaborative solutions – “we” – rather than aggravating problems; working for common ground, rather than winning battles against an enemy.
That’s why I support JoAnn Ward.