Tony’s Voice: Round Table Event with the Mayor

By Tony Johnson, from the University of Minnesota working with the Civil Rights Department

Urban Scholars with the MayorToday my fellow Urban Scholars and I had our first round table discussion with Mayor RT Rybak.  I was immediately taken aback by the realization that not many interns get the opportunity to pick the Mayor’s brain, and give the Mayor fresh perspectives on issues that are personally important to themselves. Even though it was 8:30 in the morning the Mayor was very enthused about us being there and was really excited to hear what we had to say. We quickly found out that his secret for being so alert was green tea and almonds. Maybe I’ll have to give it try.

Because we are all Minneapolis residents we all have a vested interest in the direction that this city takes and our questions were very specific to what our interests and concerns are. The questions were very different, but the mayor did a terrific job of answering anything that we asked. To my surprise the mayor was very knowledgeable and excited about a question that I had which pertained to the local food movement, Home Grown Minneapolis.  Home Grown Minneapolis is still in its early stages, but Minneapolis is really ahead of other cities in considering the potential positive impacts of local food production. When RT talked about it, he said that it was one of his hot topic issues and he talked a little bit about the historical significance of Minneapolis being a huge producer of flour in the past.

At the conclusion of the meeting we decided that we would have more round table discussions in the upcoming weeks, which illustrate the mayor’s commitment to the program. I’m really excited that my fellow urban scholars and I have the opportunity to give the mayor unique perspectives from young people which could potentially influence his decisions in the future.

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