By Susie Weinacht
The past five years prove what Cedar Rapids can do. Despite all we’ve been through, we’re growing. It’s exactly what I expected when appointed to the Governor’s Long Term Recovery Task Force in 2008 and joined the dedicated people on United Way’s flood recovery and rebuild committees.
That said, we’re still not where we need to be. Most of the property that’s been restored remains vulnerable and, while we’ve charted a general path, there are many decisions and a lot of work ahead. We also need to make the work we’ve done to date — the economic boom — sustainable, by adding new business, and finding new ways to create jobs and encourage investment. Continuation of growth and development in NewBo and westside development need further attention by the new city council, and I am excited to be involved in building a stronger community.
While I’ve always been driven to serve, the experiences I’ve had in the last five years brought a new understanding of the way community can and should work. To a large degree, that’s because I’ve worked closely with (and for) the people who have been most seriously affected by the flood and the economic downturn that followed. My lesson began when I organized the Hawkeye Labor Council’s “Gut & Mucks” to help immediately after the flood. It continued into the fall when I helped by joining the Cedar Rapids School District, PTA and organized labor to hold a Back-To-School Rally for displaced students and their families.
These experiences drove two things home for me. I became increasingly aware of the many ways that suffering by any part of our community affects us all. I also came to appreciate the need for innovative solutions that recognize the ways that people, resources and institutions are connected. I’ve learned precisely how important listening is and the way it can inform the process of finding answers that truly address the common good.
Beyond all of these very important experiences, I have had the privilege of serving in other relevant and practical ways. I serve Cedar Rapids as a Parks & Recreation commissioner, member of the Community Corrections Improvement Association, United Way Education Solutions Team and “Ready by 21” Stakeholders committee, and Blue Zones Advisory Council, and I recently spearheaded a local “Hard Charge” event that generated $384,000 in economic impact for the area and $10,000 in scholarships. I have served on Cedar Rapids’ Ethics Board and many other community organizations.
I work as the executive director of Iowa PTA, as well as manager for RWDSU-UFCW Local 110 in Cedar Rapids following service as Director of Community Engagement for the Hawkeye Labor Council in Cedar Rapids.
I believe that my diverse experience with different organizations throughout the community allows me to provide a perspective that will be valuable to the City Council. I also feel it gives me a strong advantage when it comes to representing the interests of the city.
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