A new appreciation for the complexities of everyday life – Town-and-Gown

Today seemed like it would be the normal Monday I was expecting, in that I would come to work, take care of any questions posted by ICMA members on the website, and do some weekly upkeep of website details, followed by diving in to get a lot more of my paper done.  As it turns out, I ended up having an involved phone discussion with a woman involved in the field of Town-and-Gown, which I only barely knew about before.  Town-and-gown refers to those local governments which have a college or university within their jurisdiction, and is surprisingly far more involved than I have previously realized.  That is why I would like to do today’s post about how my time here at ICMA in general, working on the various oddly specific problems encountered by local governments, has been very interesting and informative (I could TOTALLY win at Trivial Pursuit: Local Government).

The woman I spoke with today works closely with those local governments which include a college or university, helping them figure out the best way to partner to benefit the community.  There are all sorts of specifics, which you could learn more about at different sites including the homepage of the International Town & Gown Association, but suffice to say that a personal experience I had the other month will explain my realization that interest in such specific seeming minutia can actually be monumental.  Last month, I attended a speech at Galludet University, by the President of the University, speaking to a group of Habitat for Humanity planners and participants in an upcoming build near GU.  He spoke of many specific details to his personal experiences as a deaf man in the world, and how though it was never easy, he benefited from the people close to him caring for him.  He also spoke to that sentiment being part of the driving force behind GU getting involved in the redevelopment and revitalization  projects around its campus; he admitted that GU had not lived up to the responsibilities of an ethically-grounded university in helping respond to the needs of the community directly around it.  The woman I spoke with on the phone was interested in setting up a group for Knowledge Network users interested in that type of pursuit, helping often-depressed local communities as best they can, and I was especially glad to hear that her organization existed (the aforementioned ITGA).


More generally, one of the most interesting aspects of this job has been learning how many other areas of local governance are 1) complicated, 2) more important and involved than most people realize, and 3) more important to daily life than I used to realize.  This has been sort of an unexpected boon alongside more everyday types of  enjoying one’s work (seeing success out of one’s labor, etc) – I am interested to see how my ever-growing sense of the utility and importance of local government will affect my future professional endeavors!