A good head start for my professional fellowship in the City Government of Albany is building rapport with the City Manager Peter Troedsson who patiently waited for our arrival at the airport in the wee hours of the morning of October 15. My first day is greeted with the beautiful scenery of Albany landscape and the warmth of the little community we met at the Greek Food Festival. My conversation with Peter from light bantering to serious discourse on public service and governance stirred fresh feeling of confidence and pride that I will be hosted by a good institution manage by good local leaders.
A proper precursor that contributes to my community challenge back in Philippines is the organizational structure of the City Government briefly discussed by Peter. The existence of certain departments that share the same functions but differ in their respective implementation process presents interesting dynamics that I could easily compare with the systems of governance in my country. It is noteworthy to understand how to carry on with the expectations despite these dynamics in order to achieve the goals of the organization.
I was given a chance to observe the public hearing conducted by Community Development Commission and to participate in the Development Planning meeting attended by different stakeholders of the community. Critical issues presented by various agencies include funding for affordable housing to address the housing crisis which started in 2009, encouraging volunteers in foster care for children and nursery for children who are affected by the abuse in the family as part of rehabilitation facilities. All the problem boils down to poverty and it was an eye-opener for me to know the plight of ordinary Americans struggling to get out of that situation. It all make sense when the City Planning and Zoning Overview address these issues by highlighting strategies that focus on housing, economy of the state, open spaces and public facilities and services aligned with the Oregon Statewide Planning Goals, which was approved by the Department of Land Conservation and Development. Their priorities might not be exactly the same in my country but the issue of poverty is all the same in terms of destroying the lives of the family especially the children.
Community initiatives and support play an important part in helping the City Government deliver its social services functions. A day tour with the City Mayor of Albany Sharon Konopa revealed inspiring stories of how the community worked together to re-open the Albany Carousel wherein animals represent meaningful life of each local family in Albany.
I am completely in awe on the determination of the community and on the kind of leadership Mayor Sharon exude that is manifested in the way she connects with the people to bring out the best in them even in ordinary circumstances.
It is a full first week for me here in Albany. It has been fun and motivating experience to also join other social and academic activities like having dialogue with ICMA Students Association at the University of Oregon, riding the Trolley of Horror at the Monteith House and visiting the state Capitol in Salem. And I am looking forward to a stronger relationship and comprehensive knowledge sharing as I successfully integrate with the process and the community of Albany in the coming weeks.