This last weekend saw the start of a community-wide outreach effort that has been over a year in the making! During my campaign for Mayor, I pitched the idea of a Big Tent Tour of the city to meet Riversiders in their own neighborhoods. Similar to many things, COVID-19 had other plans and prevented these face-to-face events from occurring. Luckily, today we are in a place where we can safely gather and engage in these meetings— because nothing is better than the traditional in-person community meeting. There are 13 remaining tour stops between now and May 2022. That means there are 13 opportunities to personally express to me what makes your neighborhood home and why you have chosen to live in this city.
Riversiders often ask me why I decided to host this tour— what is the purpose and how is it different from previous town hall meetings? The purpose of the Mayor’s Big Tent Tour is for me to engage with residents in places that are most comfortable and convenient to them, speaking about the issues they have expertise in. Riversiders are experts in their respective neighborhoods and I want to hear this expertise. This is different from previous city-sponsored town hall meetings in that I am not asking residents from all across our expansive city to come to me at City Hall, nor is this about taking City Hall “on the road.” Rather, this is me humbly coming to neighbors, as your elected representative, in search of honest discussions on where we are and where we must go. To do this, we will follow what is known as the ABCD of community outreach: Asset-Based Community Development. We will identify the assets in each neighborhood—why this particular neighborhood is home—and how we can build on these assets to create new opportunities and solve challenges. For example, that local community garden, the non-profit offering homelessness services or the afterschool programming for struggling students could be something in your neighborhood that has been an asset and worthy of strengthening for greater neighborhood value.
In short, the “why” behind this tour is to listen, share and learn from neighbors in every corner of Riverside. Each tour stop will be arranged in a casual setting with staff from the City’s Neighborhood Engagement Division ready to capture notes on the feedback from Riversiders. The goal in this casual setting is to make all neighbors will feel welcome. No formal speeches or lectures, just time to speak freely and openly with me. It is my hope that all Riversiders accept my invitation to come and join me in their neighborhood for this historic Big Tent Tour. See you on the tour route!