Last night, I attended a city-organized focus group in which local adult residents were asked to imagine a desired future in terms of Edina’s business development. The group identified an interest making Edina more of a place where people can live, work and go to school. The consultant indicated that the current percentage of residents who both live and work here is low. As commuting times increase, more people are seeking to cut their long commuting times in order to achieve better work-life balance, being more present in their families and more involved in the community. This was a good insight, but reflected the attitudes of what one person called a group of white folks older than 40 – probably most of us were older than 50. For issues building a network of sidewalks through the city, the planning horizon is 30 years, which as this point takes us nearly to mid century – 2050. I cannot speak for anyone else, but in 2060, if I’m still alive, I will be 100 years old. Everyone in attendance will be gone or well into retirement. The opinions of those most important – those under the age of 35 – were missing from the group. Likely, most people who will be living here in 2050 don’t even live here today. Personally, my priority is to rebuilt Edina to work for young adults like my children – ages 30 and 32. Many, many of us have children who live out of state, which means for those of us who enjoy being grandparents, we don’t fully enjoy that opportunity.. If they live beyond 30 minutes away, the level of contact isn’t great. If they live in or near Edina, they are going to be easier to see and if they live close to where they work, they will have more times to be good parents and for themselves. So who needs to tell us what kind of community life they want for their selves and their future families? Who is most likely to take the time to tell us what they think? The children of Edina.
That includes high school students, college students and young adults. They may still live here or somewhere else. If we ask them tell us, if we asked them, what they liked and disliked about growing up here and what attributes of communities they seek and reject. Even if they will never return, wherever they live, they make decisions based on how they view the options they have available, and whatever state where they reside, they may be having positive experiences we could emulate here. Edina Schools are viewed as a strong community asset, and typically viewed in the top 100 in the country. However, Edina nor any other Minnesota school has ever been in the top 50, 25 or 10 schools in the country. Our metro area competes nationally for jobs and talent. Edina Schools are a great example that being excellent doesn’t mean that you cannot get better.
I would recommend that as part of its long range planning process, the city survey EHS high school students and graduates under the age of 35 to determine what factors influence their decision not to return, particularly if it relates to our harsh climate or the job market in their field of interest. To fill out the picture, the city should at the same time talk with the small number of young adults under the age of 35 who didn’t grow up here. While not the primary purpose of doing this research, doing it with that age group would convey our strong interest coming here to live and work.

1 Support Created
Donna Callender about 2 years ago

On November 8, Edina residents will be able to elect 2 new Council members. There are four candidates. Two of them will keep business as usual. The other two will change this stuff. Your vote counts!