Yesterday I held my tenth ‘Coffee and Conversation’ with Cranberry residents. Maybe I had too much coffee, but I’m feeling overwhelmed with the pride over the way our residents think about their community. We launched our series of coffees last year to provide an additional channel for dialogue between our residents and their Township’s government. Most of our communication up to that point had been mediated – information carried by print or Internet or text messaging – all of which were essentially one-way.
At the outset, quite frankly, we weren’t sure if the coffees were going to be successful – after all, we started them around the same time that congressional representatives all over the country were getting hammered by their constituents at town hall meetings about healthcare, stimulus spending, and other issues. It wasn’t pretty. But we put on our game face and said: let’s try it.
Well, not only did we end up sharing coffee with more than 150 guests altogether, it reconfirmed how well-informed and caring the residents of Cranberry Township really are. I heard excellent questions and thoughtful comments that clearly showed that people really were paying attention. And it led to a great exchange of thoughts and ideas. I left each of those coffees beaming with pride over the honor I have in serving a community of such engaged, informed and supportive residents. It was really reassuring.
As a high school student back in the 1970’s, I remember loving my civic class; it spurred my interest in local government and it really never left me. Unfortunately, our schools don’t offer those same types of civic classes today. Civics seems to have gone the way of wood shop and other practical courses which gave everyone the sort of hands-on learning that stays with you for a lifetime. Perhaps that’s why we work so hard in Cranberry to make sure there are lots of opportunities for civic involvement and education. Just look around and you’ll be amazed by the civic involvement of our residents.
Let me give you an example. At last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, there were two significant recognitions of residents whose activities helped to improve our community. One was Amy Fuller, who headed up the Relay For Life fundraiser last July in North Boundary Park. The American Cancer Society honored her for running the most successful Relay out of the 5,000 that were held last year nationwide.
Then Michael Sherry was honored by the Cranberry Township Community Chest and Chamber of Commerce as their outstanding citizen of the year. Michael was the driving force behind the Miracle League Baseball Field at Graham Park. It is a remarkable facility, designed to accommodate players with serious disabilities, and it demonstrates our community’s insistence that children of all abilities get to experience the joy of playing baseball.
One comment I recently heard from a resident really summed it up for me. It was from a guy who provides financial services to local governments all across the state to help them with their operating and capital needs. He told me that when his clients explain what they need, they inevitably say ‘we want to do it the way Cranberry Township is doing it.’ At that point, he beams and says ‘I know exactly what you mean, I live there myself, and I’m very proud of my community.’ Well, so am I.
If you have any ideas on how we can even do better with communications, I would love to hear from you by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org