This Is Us: Lunch for 16

This Is Us: Lunch for 16

After spending last week at the ASAE conference, and then the ICMA conference, it dawned on me that the (short) history of ELGL should be recorded and shared.

Why? Mainly to capture the story of ELGL, and also to share how our organization operates and how that’s very different than most groups.

Kent and I moved to Oregon from Virginia for my job with the city of West Linn, and with the exception of my new coworkers, we didn’t know anyone in Oregon local government. Kent’s job search took longer than he would have liked, but he ultimately landed a job with the city of Tigard.

During Kent’s job search and interviews, he kept seeing the same people in the finals for the jobs. And it dawned on him (and also me) that in local government, you’re going to be competing with the same people form the same jobs for your entire career (no matter the level of position). And so it made sense that instead of only crossing paths with people when you’re duking out for a new job, you should also get to know them because you likely have a ton in common.

Plus, as we were working in our jobs, it became clear that it was a lot easier to copy good ideas from our neighbors, instead of trying to reinvent work products. At that time, there was an active state ICMA chapter but because of our positions we weren’t members of the group and we got a tepid response to an inquiry about starting up an “emerging” group.

So, Kent decided to organize a simple lunch for local government professionals in the region who we had met or crossed paths with. When Kent told me he was doing this, I was less than enthusiastic (I’m a pretty classic introvert who would rather eat lunch alone than with a bunch of people I don’t know very well). But he listed all of the reasons why developing a strong local government network was a good idea and I agreed to go to the lunch.

Randy Ealy, Preston Polasek, Jordan Wheeler, Jeanna Troha, Cate Schneider and Ben Bryant joined Kent and me for lunch (there were 16 people there… but I can’t remember who else was there – were you? Email me so I can add you to this list). It was a fun lunch and we agreed that getting together more frequently was a great idea.

So that’s the story of ELGL’s very first meeting. In future blogs, I’ll share stuff like: early volunteers shaped our mission and vision; we’re a 501c6; we’re not owned by ICMA; we only have one employee; we don’t have an office; how our work is entirely dependent on awesome volunteers; and the overall leadership structures and checks/balances.