My name is Duncan Gregory, and I’ll be acting as your new President of the HHPNC. In our first month of meetings, the board nominated me for the appointed position and I accepted. I want to thank everyone in the community for their patience as the new board gets oriented.
For this first President’s note, I’d like to highlight communication. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to tune in to Neighborhood Council meetings. The board uses the set bureaucratic language of governance because it helps us get things done in an official capacity, but this causes meetings to stretch into lengthy, multiple-hour affairs. If we want to include people in our neighborhood’s decision-making processes, we need to make it easier to participate. I understand that we need to go beyond general board meetings and build out more palatable avenues of two-way communication; two-way referring to concerns coming into the board from the community and the board disseminating information to the community in an efficient way.
My first attempt to start building this bridge is the Public Comment Submission Form for our neighbors that are unable to join us on Zoom as the pandemic continues to put people at risk. If you want to submit a public comment for a meeting but can’t attend, this is the form for you. This is in no way the only way to make a public comment, we will still always allow for in-person public comment from the community during those sections of our agenda, this is simply a way to try and open up the door to those stakeholders who might not have 3 hours of free time on the first Thursday of the month. If you have questions or have trouble with the form, you can also email me at your convenience with your comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Agenda Submission Form is also available to stakeholders who wish to have their item considered for inclusion on a general public agenda or a committee meeting agenda. If you submit via this form, your item will be brought to the Executive Committee Meeting (last Thursday of the month). There, we will discuss the item to see where it best fits into either the General Board agenda or a specific committee’s agenda.
Next, I would like to develop a robust volunteer group in Highland Park. There are so many ways to get involved in our community. Whether it’s connecting with one of the non-profits that have received funding from our board, joining a committee as a stakeholder to voice your opinion, or working with our outreach groups to hand out flyers to households that may have members who don’t get their information from social media or online, we can always use your help. That’s why I’ve created this Highland Park Volunteer Sign Up Form so we can be in better contact with those who wish to volunteer and help us with various projects. I know a lot of people who receive this letter are already spending so much time helping the board operate and for that I am exceedingly grateful. Upon filling out this form, you’ll receive emails from the board about opportunities to get involved in, as well as where we might be needing some extra help.
Finally, I want to know how we can do our job better. I’m of the opinion that a good leader asks questions. With that in mind, I wrote this HHPNC Communication Improvement Survey to try and get a better understanding of where people are getting their information about the goings-on of Highland Park. If you can take a look at that questionnaire I would be so appreciative.
These avenues of communication that I am trying to establish are living ideas. What I mean by that is that they will not be perfect, and they are meant to change as we discover what works and doesn’t work for our community. If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or opinions about any of these initiatives, I would love to hear from you. To me, democracy thrives when the people representing a community seek out those opinions that differ from their own; that is how we can make informed decisions, elevate the discourse of difficult subjects, and engage more people with respect, civility and compassion. No matter what you do for a living, no matter if you’re housed or unhoused, no matter what differences you and I may have in personal beliefs, you are my neighbor and I am yours. Cheesy as that may be, I think it is an important thing to say in this first letter. Together we can celebrate and preserve what is wonderful about Highland Park while simultaneously questioning what we can do to improve our historic neighborhood. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please share this message and/or any of the links in this letter with your friends, neighbors and colleagues who are Highland Park stakeholders.