Welcome! Vision and foresight to hear all voices and advance a more equitable city

Welcome, Director Hutcheson! I am a resident of the 9th Ward. I rent, and I ride my bike or walk or take transit everywhere. I am a person of color, and I am involved with my community, organizing and supporting safer spaces. I work on encouraging people to ride their bikes more. Some communities don't value and use bikes in the same way that white, middle class people do. Instead of trying to do something that would change the "behavior" of someone not riding a bike, we think about the systems in place that devalue or prohibit bikes and bike riding. For example, if systems of oppression and systemic racism make it difficult or impossible for some people to afford a car or get a drivers license, the bike can become a mark of poverty or make you more vulnerable to abuse on the street, which doesn't make people want to ride them! Policies that are not sensitive to barriers caused by these systems of racism and oppression reinforce things like privilege, profiling, and unfair enforcement. (More reasons not to ride a bike.) Public Works has such a broad impact on Minneapolis, beyond streets and water and electricity. I use this bike example because it is what I know, but I think it explains how I see Public Works has opportunities to look at systems of oppression and racism and make a difference in our lives. A visionary Public Works director has the opportunity to improve policies around how communities are engaged, how streets are prioritized to fulfill our Complete Streets policy, making sure all communities have access to services, etc. There are so many different needs in the City, and I am looking forward to how you, our new director of Public Works, will use your vision and foresight to hear all voices and orchestrate these complex systems for a more equitable city. Welcome!

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