Solving community issues requires community voice

Portrait of Ann Mulholland

By Ann Mulholland, vice president of community impact, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations

At the Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations, we believe that our role is to partner with the community on the issues of our time. We know that communities are in the best position to articulate their own priorities and that today’s pressing issues require collaborative and innovative approaches.

In our work, we are constantly listening to the members of the community. These individuals and organizations help the Foundations remain abreast of the important issues of the day. While we don’t always take a position on issues, we always want to shine a light on great, collaborative processes that are rooted in inclusion and give voice to the community.

In 2017, we commissioned a report by the Citizens LeagueGathering Community Input on a Possible Minimum Wage Increase in St. Paul. What we appreciate about the Citizens League is that the organization brings together people with a variety of perspectives and points of view in a safe place where they can have a real conversation. When trying to solve community issues, positive discourse is necessary.

As an organization, we are not taking an official position on the minimum wage issue. However, knowing that the conversation was on the horizon – all of the mayoral candidates and most of the city council members were supportive of having the conversation – our goal was to support the Citizens League as they worked through a collaborative process. We wanted to make sure that the right questions were asked and that all voices were heard. We wanted to ensure that policymakers engaging in this body of work could have effective conversations stemming from solid information, derived from a process that lifted up the voices of the community – including the business community.

At the Foundations, it’s not our role to get in the way of policymakers; but we will always lift up community voice, interest and desire. There are a myriad of issues with regards to a possible minimum wage increase that need to be addressed. This Citizens League report identifies the key questions, resources and stakeholders necessary to participate in a larger potential effort in 2018. It’s just the beginning, and we look forward to the continuation of the conversation.

Click here to read the full report.