By Bobbie Osterberg, Alexandria Mayor

Winter is done. Spring has sprung. Visions of garden seeds and bedding plants are dancing in my head.

In January, I introduced ICE as a guiding principle, a vision and an expectation.

ICE is my acronym for Integrity – Commitment – Engagement. ICE is meant to encourage effective principles of solid decision making and participation by the residents and leadership of this award-winning city.

Integrity: Be honest, fair, real, trustworthy, transparent, credible, kind. I've often thought a written test for integrity would include questions like: “Do you litter?” and “What do you do when no one is looking?”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Commitment: The commitment I envision gives each of us the opportunity to leave this place better than we found it. Today’s Alexandria is the benefactor of decisions and commitments made by leadership and residents 100+ years ago. The first commitment a council makes is to be non-partisan in their decision making. That involves hearing both sides of the story and choosing what’s best for the community.

Engagement: Being engaged pulls it all together. Engagement presents itself many times a day and in many ways. My initial thought when choosing the word engagement was to bring in new faces and new ideas to the many city advisory committees. And that has happened. The council hears recommendations from advisory committees at city council meetings. Items on the agenda often include recommendations from citizens who serve on the Planning Commission, Runestone Community Center, Parks Board, Stormwater Management and the list goes on. There is also a place for engagement that comes from thinking beyond ourselves. The kind of engagement that is at the day-to-day, face-to-face level with your neighbor. So many opportunities to make a difference and leave a legacy.

A big congratulations to Helping Hands of Alexandria on the celebration of their first anniversary. Thank you to the thousands of people engaged in that group in our community that have made a difference for their neighbor. Amazing results from kids getting engaged beyond themselves at Discovery Middle School and the Cool School Plunge. When you do good things, good things will happen. So many good things are happening here.

I'm going to issue a community engagement challenge right here, right now! Please get vaccinated when you’re eligible. Word on the street is that people are saying no to the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID. And the reason is …“I'm healthy. Let someone else have my dose.” Readers, we won’t get to herd immunity at that rate. Please, when you get the call/email/text: make the appointment and show up. And new cases are on the rise.

I got the email and showed up for the appointment. I had this sense of being liberated immediately after the immunization. It will take two weeks for the immunization to take hold. But the truth is I won’t lose the mask, stand close or ditch good hand-washing habits just yet. And that will take much longer if folks don't accept the invitation to immunization. Seems to me, just a few months ago, herd immunity was a goal and a path out of this mess.

A community with active, engaged citizens is a community that cares for each other and together reaches new heights. Learn about city activities and share your ideas in one of the ways below. We can’t wait to hear from you!

To learn more about advisory committees and boards, go to https://alexandriamn.city/boards-and-commissions/

Bobbie Osterberg is the mayor of Alexandria. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.