East Aldine’s new Town Center was the site of a “Civic Saturday” workshop last Saturday. Hundreds turned out to talk with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, heads of other county departments, and civic leaders.
Judge Hidalgo has planned a series of 7 of these meetings, each with a specific topic, throughout the county. She wants citizen participation in county government, and wants to hear ideas to help shape the county’s future.
These events are day-long, where constituents bring their concerns, ideas and collaborate with leaders who put change in motion. The goal is to learn from and communicate with the community.
Meetings have been planned on the following subjects:
— Health & Environment
— Transportation, Infrastructure & Safety
— Resilience & Flood Mitigation
— Children & Early Education
— Economic Opportunity & Housing
— Criminal Justice
— Resilience & Flood Mitigation (repeat)
The format for the event was an opening with statements from department heads and community leaders. Judge Hidalgo sees the Civic Saturdays as a part of “Talking Transitions: Harris County” a program designed to promote the public’s involvement in shaping the county’s future. The format of the meeting was:
— A large gathering organized around a specific theme, giving people a chance to share new ideas for improving their communities and to hear from others.
— Smaller working groups for people who have devoted time to specific issues, to focus on how to best realize community-driven ideas through county government.
— Classroom style lessons on the workings of county government.
The Civic Saturday topics in Aldine were Economic Opportunity & Housing. The breakout session for Economic Opportunity focused on Entrepreneurship and Small Business, and Workforce Jobs and Education. The breakout session for Housing focused on Homeowner concerns, and Tenant concerns. Teams outlined their topic and solutions on white display pads, and at the end of the morning reported to the whole group.
Judge Hidalgo closed the session with talk that Harris County is working on a Housing Plan, which would reflect the ideas presented. She said “This is the beginning of an on-going conversation.”Lunch and a follow-up review with county and civic leaders ended the event.