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Sixty communities set to participate in 'Your City's Families Conference.' (includes related information on family programs in Baltimore, Maryland, Savannah, Georgia and Minneapolis, Minnesota)

More than 150 local government leaders have pre-registered for NLC's first "Your City's Families" Conference, scheduled for September 17-19, in Minneapolis.

Community |teams' and individuals are welcome. Participants include multi-person, action teams from 20 cities and towns and individuals from 40 other communities.

They will benefit from a lively and varied program that includes stimulating general sessions, workshops with experts who have hands-on experience, study tours to working community programs and personalized technical assistance to help participants develop action plans for their communities.

"The futures of our families and our communities are linked," said host city, mayor Donald M. Fraser, "and this conference will explore those linkages while providing attendees with practical, |how-to' information they can take back and use in their city halls home towns, and neighborhoods."

Conference participants will focus on how success for families and success for communities are connected. Team members and individuals alike will have the opportunity to learn what other communities are doing to bring people together, build connections within neighborhoods, and create attractive and supportive places for families to live.

In addition, the conference will assist both the teams and the individuals in planning for actions they can implement back home.

General Sessions

The opening panel on Friday afternoon September 17 will focus on what an ideal community for families would be like and what role local governments have in establishing that ideal. Karen Pittman of the Academy for Educational Development, a noted authority on youth and communities, will facilitate a series of discussions with the panelists. The panel will feature Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser; Tallahassee Mayor Dorothy Inman-Crews; Marsha Ritzdorf, associate professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University; and Charles Jordan, parks & recreation director, Portland, Ore.

The second major general session on Saturday morning September 18 will showcase three communities that have developed new visions for their families and their communities: Baltimore, Savannah and host city Minneapolis.

Planning for action at home

Throughout the conference, facilitators and resource persons will lead small groups of participants in applying what they have heard to their particular communities. Teams will receive assistance with developing a particular plan, and individuals will learn more about establishing teams when they return home.

Not too late to register

There is still time to register for the conference. Both individuals, and teams can mail or fax registrations as long as they are received no later than Wednesday, September 8. Call NLC at (202) 626-3030 as soon as possible to receive a registration form. There is still time.

The mailing address is: Your City's Families Conference, Children and Families in Cities Program, National League of Cities, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20004. Or, fax your registration to 202/626-3043.

If you have questions, please call Tonya Gary at 202/626-3030.

Three Communities With

Vision For Their Families

Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore vision that will be presented during the conference is focused on the 72 square block neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester where 10,000 people live. The vision is "to build a viable working community in which neighborhood residents are empowered to direct and sustain he physical, social and economic development of their community."

All public and private support systems - including housing, education, employment, health care and public safety - are being directed at achieving self-sufficiency and maximizing potential.

"There is not a system that will not be touched," says Barbara Bostick, Executive Director of the organization charged with implementing this vision, Community Building in Partnership.

The Partnership is carrying out both physical and social renewal to transform a poor Baltimore neighborhood, proving that low-income communities can be made viable and can support residents in achieving well-being and their highest potential.

New housing has been constructed, and there are new youth programs, classes for adults seeking GED certificates, a community newspaper, and a support center with activities for senior citizens.

Savannah, Georgia

In Savannah, Georgia, the Youth Futures Authority (YFA) targets "fixing systems, not fixing kids." YFA leaders believe that "youth should not be blamed for conditions which lead to failure rather than success."

Conference participants will learn about its various initiatives such as neighborhood-based service centers offering a continuum of services, including school readiness; a family case management system for teenage parents and their infants; intensified work with the school system to review and improve curriculum and policies; and consideration of a highly specialized curriculum for at-risk black males in the third, sixth, and ninth grades.

According to Otis Johnson, YFA Executive Director, "the focus is on true intergovernmental and community collaboration where people from the neighborhoods and public and private institutions enter a true partnership motivated by a shared vision."

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The city of Minneapolis has made children and families a priority. A Friday morning tour prior to the conference's actual start will show families at work and will show the community supporting families.

Providing an overview and organizing function for the city is the Youth Coordinating Board which houses several programs for children and youth. Way to Grow and the Neighborhood Early Learning Centers are two such programs that work to improve early childhood development for all children.

The parks in the city are not just beautiful places to spend your free time. They also are the center of numerous programs designed to involve parents, children, the elderly, and others in the community.

Finally, Minneapolis is a leader in the nation on community crime prevention. Its SAFE program and block club initiatives are helping all neighborhoods remain vital.

These local government initiatives support Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser's argument that "It is squarely a municipal job to help weave the community fabric that can strengthen families and neighborhoods."
COPYRIGHT 1993 National League of Cities
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kyle, John E.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Aug 30, 1993
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