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Wednesday, November 8, 2006 – 3:00 p.m.

Present: Eliot Glassheim, Pete Haga, Rich Becker, Chris Rood, John Staley, Pat Berger, Julie Jeske, John Packett, Deb Thompson.

I. Welcome and Introductions.

Haga welcomed everyone and stated that the Mayor was just paged to return to the hospital and would return if able to join the meeting.

II. 100 Best Communities for Young People Application

Haga stated that the deadline for submitting the application has been extended so he is still holding our submission for final tweaking if anyone has any suggestions for additions.

Becker stated that he would like to see the population number being used researched, as he feels that the actual number in the community, when you include the UND population and the Air Force Base should be higher, and that we should use number more reflective of our reach. Haga responded that the MPO is working on this number and that he feels need to use a number that we can justify on the application, and that population does not seem to be a determining factor for the award so should not have a significant effect on our selection.

Haga stated that last year the application focused heavily on The Answer and its work in the community and we have left that in this year, but have added the Helping Hands program, for which the community has already won an award. Glassheim suggested also including the Healthy Families Program from Lutheran Social Services because of their work with young children in the community. Haga responded that they are also included in the application.

III. The Answer

Haga asked Rood to give an update on the status of The Answer. Rood stated that The Answer is now housed in the United Way offices. She continued that the intent was always to start work within the school, then move out to include more general community involvement. She stated that the intent is to keep the program going and right now working on securing funding. She added that Altru Alliance is currently assisting them in the funding area on a temporary basis and a grant application has been submitted to Bremer. Rood stated that part of the focus may change, as in the past

Rood informed the group that Happy Harry’s is having a press conference as a kickoff to an alcohol awareness program which will include bag stuffers that discuss that 65% of alcohol obtained by underage youth is obtained in their own home.

Berger stated that there was also a press conference a short time ago for the release of the survey done in the school system on substance use and it shows an increase in the number of youth that are coming to school drunk and/or drinking during school hours. She added that the entire survey is posted on the United Way website if anyone wants to review it in its entirety.

Rood stated that Dr. Jeff Stamp with the Center for Innovation is working on a project which will be creation of a youth run business, initiated by a team of youth and run operationally by the youth, the profits of which will go back to support youth programs in the community. She continued that presently he is in the process of interviewing high school youth for the project and determining ideas. She added that one idea that is being considered involves using the soy by-product of glycerin to create a soap product.

Haga inquired whether the mission of The Answer has changed. Rood responded that they will continue to promote healthy behaviors and attitudes, and that in light of the survey results, will expand to include things other than just focus on alcohol use. Berger noted that the survey shows an increase in the risky sexual, internet and other substance use behaviors, while a slight decrease in smoking, alcohol use, alcohol use while driving and marijuana use. She continued that United Way is also concerned with binge drinking on campus and the inability to curb this behavior through efforts used thus far. She added that there has been a shift in some of the tailgating to using “mocktails” instead of real alcoholic beverages, but that still sends message that need that drink to have fun. The group discussed that there have been family activities added to the tailgating area, but that they are mixed in with the regular tailgators and still have the alcohol use around the youth. Silverman noted that she has noticed more of a police presence in the community lately and that may be why less in some categories.

Haga commented that he wants the group to be aware of the direction that The Answer is taking and to continue thinking about where we are going and be open to the possibility of merging or melding if it seems appropriate in the future.

IV. Youth Commission & Community Report Card Update

Haga stated that at the last meeting there was good conversation with Ron Gruwell of the GF Public Schools and asked whether the cabinet still sees value from creating a youth board to give youth more voice in the community. The consensus of the group was that there was still value to be gained with creating a youth commission. Thompson commented that we need to make sure that it is a forum where we talk with and listen to youth and not us telling them what to do.

Packett commented that he sees such a disconnect between the attitudes and behaviors that we heard at the middle school and high school level versus those coming from the UND students when you talk about expected behaviors and social concepts. Becker commented that somewhere along the way they learn a lot about “rights” but lose the concept of responsibility that should be there. The group discussed potential reasons for this change and the need to find a way to keep the responsibility focus that the younger youth have as they age.

Staley commented that he had been at a national seminar on park and recreation trends and the impact of technology on youth. He continued that we seem to make decisions based on a framework that has been used in the past, but youth expectations have changed and are not coming to those amenities that used to be popular, like youth centers. He added that this means we have to find a way to think outside the box to fulfill those changing needs of youth.

Staley explained that they talked about “youth cocooning” , which is when youth go home from school and spend all their time isolated with video games, internet, etc., which leads to not enough socialization and the need for increasing levels of excitement and multitasking to keep their interest. He continued that it also leads to depersonalizing of the youth, who really want to be more personal and that is why the huge increase in those using myspace, tattooing, custom bikes, has happened; as it’s their way to get noticed. He added that also see it in dating – not many date one on one any more, it’s all group dating because often feel that one on one is not interesting enough.

Packett shared an experience from the prior weekend where the police department responded to a situation involving some 10-12 year old youths, and the mother of one of the youths wrote a stern letter back to him admonishing the officers for doing their job and chastising their children because they have rights.

The group discussed what needed to be done to proceed. Thompson stated that we need the youth involvement to have success with any program we try to implement. Haga stated that the main hurdle left is to work out the logistics – getting the youth released from school and transported to the meeting site.

The group discussed that after that need to work on what the youth will discuss when they gather. Haga said that we had decided to have the youth make up their top ten needs for the community. Rood commented that we could start compiling those lists by using The Answer work groups within each school. Berger added that then perhaps each of the work groups could nominate a representative to the commission for the large group meeting. Thompson suggested that we also make sure that we stagger terms so that there is continuity on the commission. Haga stated that perhaps these representatives could be our starting commission and then they could help determine the selection process for their successors.

Rood will work with the schools on getting meetings established for the work groups and work toward a goal of near January 1 target date for the larger meeting, with the composition being 4 representatives from each high school and 3 from each middle school.

Haga stated that the Community Report Card is not fully developed and needs to be finalized. The group discussed the model that had been sent out a couple of meetings ago. Haga will resend the draft to all cabinet members and each will add think of benchmarks that could be used in each of the five focus areas. Haga will try to coordinate the list of measurables to be used in each category through e-mail. A revised draft report card will be brought to the next committee meeting, where the cabinet will work on defining who will be responsible for tracking down the information for each benchmark.

V. Other.

Staley asked if there has been any thought to having a town hall meeting to discuss youth issues in the community including the charge from youth that there is nothing to do. Rood reported that the school district received some grant funding which has a requirement to host a youth summit and work on the will begin soon. She added that she will ask them to get in touch with Haga to see if there is any opportunity to work together on this.

Haga stated that the group had discussed that youth now are communicating in new ways like blogs, myspace.com, utube, etc. and wondered if the cabinet should be looking at utilizing some of that technology to reach out to youth and start a dialogue. The group discussed that this would be another means to ask youth questions and get feedback on ideas of the cabinet and also to get the word out about events that are coming up that could be of interest to youth. Silverman pointed out that with a page on a site such as myspace.com you can also sign up to be a “friend” and then get bulletins when new info is posted on the site and would give the commission a way to keep in touch with users that sign up. She added that there would have to be someone designated to monitor the content that gets posted and the bulletins that go out.

Berger asked if there might be a way to work with the Herald teen page on this. Haga stated that we could also put a page on the City website, but would have some limitation as to advertising if go that route. The group will keep researching this and discuss more at the next meeting.

VI. Next Meeting Date

Haga will notify the group of the next scheduled meeting

VII. Adjournment

Meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sherie Lundmark
Admin Spec Sr