Have you ever felt like the youngest person in the room? Growing up in a civically-engaged family, I constantly found myself the youngest person at neighborhood meetings.
In 2000, at age 13, I went on the record at a Saint Paul community meeting to oppose a project that would have destroyed aspects of my neighborhood. A bus-way from downtown Saint Paul to Mall of America was proposed to travel down the center of West 7th Street. This transit project would have cut service levels, divided the neighborhood in half, and taken away boulevard trees. Because of my young age, people at the meeting asked me, "Why are you here?" I answered, "I'm here because I care."
Fast forward to 2014.
I currently sit on the board of my Saint Paul neighborhood district council. This board doubles as a nonprofit and a community development corporation. Saint Paul is lucky to have a local form of governance like the Neighborhood District Council System. It is relatively easy to become civically engaged in your community by participating in your neighborhood district council.