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City Club of C.O. names Conversation of the Year finalists


At its February special forum, City Club of Central Oregon announced the three finalists for the second annual “Conversation of the Year” award.

Unlike most awards, which recognize individual achievement, the Conversation of the Year award celebrates the quality of the conversation itself and recognizes the community as the true winner. One or more individuals, for-profits, non-profits, or government entities will receive the circulating trophy for their participation in the conversation.

The selection committee is comprised of City Club’s past presidents and the award will go to the community conversation that best reflects City Club’s mission, which is “to build a conscious and civic-minded community through dialog, education, and research that results in responsible civic engagement.”

The trophy, designed and sponsored by Buchanan Schmid, LLC, will be presented to the winner(s) at City Club’s Pop Up Mixer on April 23rd.

The three finalists, in no particular order, are as follows:

Rethinking Government: Bend Charter Review
Should Bend have a salaried mayor or City Council? Should city councilors be elected citywide or from geographic “wards”? Should Bend’s mayor be elected by popular vote of the people? These questions, and more were posed to the community at a series of listening sessions coordinated by a coalition comprised of Bend 2030, the Bend Chamber of Commerce, and the City Club of Central Oregon. The partnership sparked conversation and then action by voters who amended the city’s charter and, ultimately, elected their first mayor by popular vote in over 90 years.

Redmond Urban Planning:
Too often we conflate “public conversation” with “public speaking.” Some of the best public conversations, however, involve more public listening and action than they do speaking. Such is the case with the past decade of Redmond’s efforts to improve the livability and viability of its urban core. By listening to its citizens and converting that conversation into action, Redmond has twice expanded its urban growth boundary without litigation. It reclaimed its historic downtown after the construction of the Highway 97 bypass. It created downtown recreational opportunities with a new ice rink and skate park. And it instilled respect for history by creating a new city hall from the old bones of the Evergreen School. In Redmond, public conversation is encouraged as a means to prevent, not just solve, controversy.

Workforce Planning in Education:
Great public conversations empower folks with different goals to collaborate and find common ground. Such was the case when Central Oregon’s business and education communities teamed up, on behalf of the entire region, to prepare students and workers for careers as skilled workers with local business and industry. The coalition, which is comprised of educators (each school district throughout the tri-county region, OSU, COCC), business interests (Chambers of Commerce, EDCO, St. Charles, and over 100 other private and public participants, takes a data-driven approach to improving graduation rates, expanding the CareerConnect system, creating internship opportunities, advocating for racial equity, and providing a healthy start for children from the crib to age eight.

About City Club of Central Oregon

City Club of Central Oregon exists to be the top-of-mind hub for citizens and community leaders. We intentionally shape our community and influence public policy while preserving our uniquely warm and connected culture. We champion “passionately non-partisan” discussion between diverse perspectives.

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