Podcast: Creating a State of the City Event with Kent Wyatt, Tigard, OR

Posted on March 30, 2021


kent wyatt gov love

Kent Wyatt

Kent Wyatt
Communications Director
City of Tigard, Oregon
LinkedIn | Twitter


Late night in Tigard. Kent Wyatt, Communications Director for the City of Tigard, Oregon, joined the podcast to talk about the City’s creative approach to the annual State of the City address. He discussed how to make the State of the City more authentic and relatable to members of the public, the importance of partnering with a community media center to produce a video, and where to find inspiration. He also stressed the importance of making communications from your city accessible to all members of the community.

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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2021 State of the City – City of Tigard 

How to Deliver an Effective State of the City Address


Episode Transcription

Kirsten Wyatt  00:05

Coming to you from Portland, Oregon, this is Gov Love, a podcast about local government. Gov Love is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Kirsten Wyatt, the ELGL Co-founder and Executive Director. And today I’m joined by Ken Wyatt, the Communications Director for the city of Tigard, Oregon. And yes, he’s my husband. And yes, we are recording this in our house, but in separate rooms. Kent, welcome to Gov Love.

Kent Wyatt  00:35

So great to be back on the podcast. Before we get started, do you want me to sing happy birthday to you now or should I do it later?

Kirsten Wyatt  00:43

Gosh, please.

Kent Wyatt  00:44

For our listeners, for the listeners who don’t know, Kirsten according to our daughter Josephine, turned 35 on March 24th. So congratulations to you.

Kirsten Wyatt  00:54

Well, and your birthday is coming up on Saturday, and this episode will have aired by then, so 

Kent Wyatt  00:58

Ya, big 40. 

Kirsten Wyatt  00:59

Oh, brother. All right, so today we are talking about State of the City addresses. And we’ll hear more about Kent’s work on State of the City addresses during COVID. But then also in general about how to be most effective with these important speeches. But first, let’s get started with a lightning round. What is your most controversial non political opinion?

Kent Wyatt  01:26

I jus, first of all, I’m really worried about what these questions and where they’re going to go. But to answer that question, I mean, pineapple on pizza is just pure garbage. I don’t know if that’s controversial or not. But I would say it’s, it’s one of the strong five or six tenants that I have in my life that pineapples should not be found on pizza.

Kirsten Wyatt  01:46

That’s, I mean, that’s very intense that that makes your list of five or six tenants.

Kent Wyatt  01:51

Ya, I’d rather not talk about the other five. So I’m got even touching that one.

Kirsten Wyatt  01:55

All right, what book are you currently reading? And would you recommend it?

Kent Wyatt  02:00

So what book Am I reading? I’ve been, so full disclosure, I’ve struggled with books lately. I try to do ebooks. Now, and I switched back to paper books. So actually, I have a book right now the title is escaping my mind. But it’s about being a middle aged father. And basically finding the meaning of life, which spoiler to the listeners, I haven’t gotten to the chapter that reveals that secret. But I will, I will make sure I relay the title of that book, because chapter one was good. So we’ll see where the rest of that’s headed to.

Kirsten Wyatt  02:37

Alright, and if you could give advice to your 21 year old self, what would you say?

Kent Wyatt  02:43

You know, wow, that’s a deep question. Especially coming from you. I still remember when we were sitting, standing in the airport. Maybe shortly after we got married, before we got married, and we’re trying to figure out where we were going to move to next and remembering that conversation and looking back and how meaningful that was. Yeah, I think the you know, the thing that I would tell my 21 year old self is just don’t, don’t be complacent. And honestly, that’s sounds really easy. But it’s difficult. I think, especially when you get married, have a job, have kids. The day to day is often easier than veering off that path. And I think certainly there’s a responsible, you know, you should deviate and think about avoiding complacency while being responsible, which sometimes can contradict itself. But whether that’s a career change, you know, I initially started on a career path of wanting to be a city manager, like my father. And realized that wasn’t for me. Even before that I thought I wanted to be in banking because it was cool to work in big buildings. I realized that was not for me, so. But even you know, now that I’m 42-ish, 43 soon finding those opportunities to change course as much as you can. Sometimes it might be driving a different way to work. Sometimes that might be, right now in my office at home, either talking, doing meetings in my daughter’s room or doing it downstairs. So just just avoiding complacency at all at all costs.

Kirsten Wyatt  04:28

Some good advice. This next question isn’t very deep. But if you woke up one day and you had different hands, how long would it take you to notice?

Kent Wyatt  04:40

Well, this is kind of an easy one. Excuse me if people are repulsed by this, but I am a nail biter. So I would notice pretty quickly because that is one of my habits. That’s probably isn’t the best. So I would say probably less than a minute. 

Kirsten Wyatt  04:57

Oh, wow. 

Kent Wyatt  04:58

To recognize that, yeah, yeah. 

Kirsten Wyatt  05:00

I wonder if you’d have better handwriting if you had different hands?

Kent Wyatt  05:03

I wonder that. I would wonder if anybody listening has any ideas for how I can curtail my nail biting that would be appreciated, too.

Kirsten Wyatt  05:14

All right, maybe not on this podcast, we’re not going to get into that. We’re going to talk about State of the City addresses. 

Kent Wyatt  05:19

Let’s do it.

Kirsten Wyatt  05:20

But before we begin a quick reminder to our listeners that the new normal survey, COVID’s lasting legacy for local government is an opportunity to share your unique perspective as a local government leader. And we want to know, what will COVID-19 lasting legacy be on public services? Your response will help the entire local government community build a new, better normal. Head over to ELGL.org to take the survey. So let’s get started. First, tell us about your career path and how you got to your current position with the City of Tigard.

Kent Wyatt  05:53

Well, let me answer that last ad read that you did quickly. That is an important survey. I know even in Tigard, the way we do work, we use Microsoft Teams. And it’s really changed the way that we work in thinking about coming back to the office and what that looks like. And is it the same? How is it different? And it’s so important to gather that information from across the country from cities and counties and everything else. So definitely would strongly encourage folks to, to complete that survey. That’s the great thing about government, like what we do is public. So let’s share with each other and try to gain some insight from each other. On to the question that you posed my career path. Like I mentioned, well, I didn’t mention this. As you probably might imagine, I wanted to be a professional athlete as a kid. I would say six out of the seven days dressed in Michael Jordan shorts and Michael Jordan t shirts and Michael Jordan shoes. That career did not take off as much as I thought. I ran into the buzzsaw when I was playing JV basketball in high school. So once that got thrown out the window, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to Ilan University in North Carolina, which is an incredible school and started off as a business administration major. I did some internships one with a big bank in Charlotte one summer, and just that wasn’t for me just how impersonal it was. And like not really seeing any sort of difference, or impact of your work that was tough to stomach. So I went from there and, and kind of reverse course, or change course a little bit and started to take public administration classes and and talk to my dad about what he thought about, you know, did I have the skill set or the demeanor to be in local government, and somewhat unexpectedly, he did not encourage me to take that career path for a number of number of reasons. And I think it’s easier to understand that now. And obviously, I’m not a city manager, but seeing some of the stuff that city managers have to deal with. And just the 24/7. It really is a lifestyle choice. And one that I’m glad I haven’t taken just because of the time I’ve been able to spend with my kids instead. But I did an internship while in undergrad at the town of Ilan, which was a super small town, Mike Doula, who unfortunately since has passed away, but give me a chance to experience all parts of local government. And from there I was kind of hooked. And I went to UNC, met a fine young lady at the UNC MPA program, fell in love with the young lady and also fell in love with local government. And you know, the coming out of MPA school, it was it was discouraging, because and probably some of your listeners can relate to this. And it was tough to find a job in local government, it wasn’t the best job market. So you know, I would say in some ways, I settled and went into state government in the State of Virginia, I worked for the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission. And in retrospect, probably one of the best jobs I could have coming out of school because it taught me those writing skills that I didn’t have. In fact, there was a professor at UNC, an MPA program who basically told me, I would never be a good writer. And so I held that dear, but also learned how to improve those writing skills by doing it and that practical work. So that was my, that was my time in state government. And from there, I have been in local government ever since. Moving out here working briefly for the city of Salem. And then for the city of Tigard. For the last 12 or 13 years. I feel like after it gets past 10 years, it just kind of all runs together, but a great time in a number of different positions for the city of Tigard.

Kirsten Wyatt  09:46

Let’s talk about your current role. What are you in charge of, what are your responsibilities, and how do you approach that work?

Kent Wyatt  09:56

So you know, I I take a lot of what I learn from ELGL into my work in Tigard, or at least try to. I think, well, first and foremost, local government should be fun. That’s not always what you see. But you know a role like communications, it is an opportunity to do that and get started with the City of Tigar in in risk management, which is probably not too many people thinking of that as fun. But it was good work experience. And then moved to the City Manager’s Office, doing legislative work and working with our homeless population, and then landed in, in Communications in that role. And you know it to me, I would, I am probably the cheerleader for communications. And I think you will have a wave of City Managers and department heads who come from that communications realm because we’re, our hands are involved in everything. And now we, in Tigard I’m responsible for the first half, we deal with our city website, which are in the process of redoing along with Granicus, graphic design, repo graphics. And, you know, it’s not it’s not rocket science, we hire good people. And let them do their work. I mean, for example, in redoing our website, you know, you can get really down in the weeds about color palettes and things that are fading in and fading out. And I, I’m honest, I don’t that’s not my specialty. But I let Karen and Christina, who are experts in that take over. So you know, if you have the right people just empowering them. And for me, that was a struggle, because, you know, when it comes to staff and stuff that I supervise, just realizing people’s skill sets. And I think it comes, especially people want to be creative. So how do you find that mixture of projects of some of the more mundane to the more creative, like the State of the City, which we’ll talk about, like, a podcast that we’ve created. I think somebody could correct me if I’m wrong, I think we’re the only city that has a city podcast completely in Spanish that we do every couple of weeks. So letting staff take off and run with that. But yeah, I think the biggest learning lesson, or one that might be helpful to people who are listening is, you know, I really not in a position to manage by authority. I’m on the same level as we don’t have, we’re decentralized. So it’s not a centralized Comms unit where I can tell every department hey, here’s the way we should do it. And this is why we’re doing it. And, to me, that’s been a great learning experience, because it is about bringing people along, it is about agreeing to disagree. It’s about picking your fights of like, what’s really worth arguing about. And, you know, building some strong relationships with all all the departments. And you know, and I think just over the last year, the most important thing, we talk about this in my team in Tigard, all the time, it’s just being compassionate, like, we all have stuff going on in our lives right now, personal professional, we’ve all probably had days where we’ve lashed out at somebody at work. And if you’re the one on the receiving end of that not, you know not taking like taking it or trying to return serve who can be meaner. This is not a great, it’s a difficult time. And just having that understanding, I think is so important, because we’re all working working for the same cause and certainly doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. But we should at least agree on the perspective of, Hey, this is this is a challenging time, but we will make it through together and hopefully with those relationships intact.

Kirsten Wyatt  13:35

So it is the season for State of the City addresses. And so would love to hear what you’ve been working on. And how you’ve approached this year’s State of the City for Mayor Snyder in Tigard.

Kent Wyatt  13:49

Yeah, so mayor, Jason Snyder is our mayor, this is his third year. And what you know, one of the things I love working in Tigard is that creative freedom. And so we’re not necessarily taking a different approach this year. But there are some things that I think will be beneficial to listeners in kind of tweaks we’ve made to how do you make a virtual State of the City seeming engaging when the audience is at home in front of their laptops. So just to paint the picture for our viewers, for our listeners, this is the third year in a row we’ve run run with the theme of, called late night in Tigard. So based on a talk show, we have an opening monologue, we do a top 10 segment, we do a segment called Mayor walking where we pop up on, in Main Street in Tigard and Mayor Snyder asked questions to community members, whoever happens to be there that day. And then we also interview key community stakeholders. So we’ve basically stuck with that formula this year, but I think we’ve we’ve found some ways to make it personalized. And just a couple of those and exactly what that means. You know, in promoting it, we’re promoting It as, almost as it’s in person where we’re encouraging, strongly encouraging people to register. The first 200 people that registered for our state of the city will receive a gift package courtesy of one of our sponsors. But that will have a Tigard face mask, it will have a Tigard Bureau cat coffee mug, and it will have some information about city projects and along with a program of that night’s events. So that will, that’s been one way to get people to know what’s out there. Secondly, we’ll be broadcasting on Facebook, we’ll be doing Facebook Live watch party, and also a YouTube Live watch party. And we hope to do throughout that giveaways to the community. So to make sure that those who register are there, and they’re also have a chance to even learn more or receive more information from the community. We certainly know that not everybody is going to register to watch the State of the City. But we do feel like we’ve got a lot of good traction, traction this way. And then in terms of you know, the content, which is the most important for for any comms person. Our focus this year is is largely on two things, one being DEI diversity, equity inclusion. We have a public safety advisory board we just started, have three of those folks that we’ve interviewed on the broadcast. The second big main major theme for Tigard this year has been the response to COVID, which is that’s not unusual or unique to us. But what is unique is having two or three business owners telling their story about honestly how much theTigard CARES grants helped them stay afloat, and helped them stay in Tigard and keep their business open. And really powerful personal stories that they’re able to offer. And then lastly, I think one of the coolest things is we had a November, December, we had a promotion initiative called Tigard cares, where we just said, Hey, Tigard community, you know, who’s, who are the persons or who are the people or groups who have gotten you through this last year? And we got tons of responses. And we’ve turned some of those in the short videos. And we have some pretty cool cameos in the State of the City of that video, including one from Representative Bonamici, who filmed hers and sent that in. So a little bit of surprises along the way in the State of the City video, some laughter, but also some serious conversation about what it really looks like to advance diversity, equity inclusion, and to also support your community. During I’ll go ahead and say at the most unprecedented times that we’ve been through.

Kirsten Wyatt  17:44

How do you approach the language that you use in a state of the city? And I’ll admit up front my, my frustration when State of the City addresses are too flowery or, you know, try to be too like a State of the Union address, I guess. So how do you how do you walk that line between having it be a compelling speech, but also actually saying something and not just saying a lot of fancy words?

Kent Wyatt  18:11

So I love that question. It’s easy in an interview setting where the mayor, Mayor Snyder’s interviewing a business owner, I think that that’s easy and takes care of itself. When you have a mayor who is personable like he is. In some of the other areas it’s tough. And I actually had a meeting today with with somebody who’s helping on the video and said, like, every time somebody says like SRO or or like some jargon, can we have like an alert pop up on the screen and say jargon alert, jargon alert? Because those types of things. That’s my pet peeve, like we don’t speak like normal human beings. I have no idea why that is, you know, I countless consultants, we’ve paid good money, and they tell us the same thing, like, be relatable, be authentic. But yet we’re not like it we’re not we’re not that in the way we speak in some of our state of the cities, that videos from other cities that I’ve seen, you know, it’s just the mayor up there talking for 30 to 45 minutes, and well, that’s an approach, if you’re really looking to make a lasting impact, you have to do something unique. And you know, what is your theme? What are those messages that you’re trying to get out? So we you know, I it’s easy for me because Mayor Snyder is 100% behind let’s not hit them off with a bunch of acronyms and jargon because we’re not doing that. But it is, you know, one of the ways I think to avoid that. Another reason project when we we just did our first budget In brief, and having people outside of your bubble, look at a document or State of the City video video. And giving that honest feedback is another way to do that. And it might not be comfortable if you’re not really used to that feedback, but so yeah, those are those are those are those a couple of ways that we deal with the jargon. And I’m glad that you brought that up. And I hope, any communicator listening to this will think about that. And I know it’s not always easy, especially if you don’t have support from the top on doing that, but it’s just so important. Nobody’s nobody’s gonna watch it or listen to it. And, you know, one of the ways I think to extend the reach of a state of the city or any video is, you know, our video will be 45 minutes or so. But we’ll cut that up into smaller clips will have a 30 second video of the mayor talking to people on the street, asking them who the mayor of Tigard is. And so it’s a mix of a little bit of comedy, but also relaying information we want from the city. For example, last year, Mayor Snyder asked community members on the street, how many police officers he thought they thought we had, and we had numbers like from from five to 5000, and you cut that up and edit it together? It makes for a pretty compelling piece that one people think we have a lot more officers than we do. And then two, it provides that opportunity to share Hey, actually, this is how many we have. And this is why we have this struggle of police in Tigard. So great question. Hopefully that provides some insight to at least to our approach.

Kirsten Wyatt  21:28

Talk to us about working with your Community Media Center. Earlier, I think Well, last year, we had Dana Healy on the podcast talking about how to work effectively with a Community Media Center. But share with us your approach from the local government side in in getting the video made and produced.

Kent Wyatt  21:48

Yeah, and that’s a that’s a key point because I don’t want make it sound like I’m the person videotaping this and editing and all that, I’m not. What I do in my role is work with in our case, it’s called Tualatin Valley.Community Television that we have a, the city has an ongoing contract with them, it’s kind of use it or lose it credits. And each, each year, usually at the beginning of the year, we meet and we talk about, hey, how can what can we do this year, for the state of the city? How can we make it unique, and we actually have a bit of advantage because they they work with all these cities in the area. And they can they can tell us, hey, this worked really well for Beaverton, or here’s what Hillsborough did. And this, this worked well, and here’s how it can be improved. So working with them, you know, and I know it’s gonna vary on, you know, the organization that you’re working with. But, you know, for me, it really is a give and take of, we have the general idea and what, for example, we had the concept, let’s do late night in Tigard. That’s our concept, but the refinement of it is really where they come into play. I mean, they’re the ones who came up with, hey, Mayor Snyder, why don’t you throw one of your note cards after your top 10 lists? Like, like David Letterman does. This year, why don’t since it’s supposed to be done in terms of it’s supposed to look like a zoom call that the interviews are taking place? Why don’t we have the connection cut out and Mayor Snyder is all a sudden not there, because the connection was lost. And so those type of things have been really helpful for us in making it more than just a video. And, you know, I would, I would say, laugh tracks can make up for a lot. And can really break some monotony in some things that interviews you may have. So that’s, that’s the part that they’ve really been good at, and very responsive. And they’re also quick to tell you, hey, this, this is just, this isn’t working. So but we have, you know, three year relationship now with them, so I feel comfortable with that. But I would encourage anybody for us, it’s been great. You know, they, you probably have, they would probably be just as fine if we went in and said, Hey, the the mayor, Mayor Snyder wants to talk for 45 minutes in front of a camera, can you film that? I’m sure they could do that. But it’s on us as a city to find a more compelling way to do it. And that’s where I think as communicators and leaders and organizations, folks who listen to this podcast, that’s where you need to do your due diligence of like, what what is working, what’s a different creative way to do it? And I think there I think sometimes it is a fine balance between being creative and cheesy like that we one year thought about going down the path of carpool karaoke. We did not, the City of Gresham, who I’m sure, I guess are fine with me talking about this. It was challenging for them, it was a lot more challenging than they thought it would be. It’s an idea and concept that sounds great, but didn’t work out. So and that’s going to happen from time to time. But not being willing to, it’s not, it shouldn’t be a matter of Oh, we’re in government, we have to do it this way. It should be a matter of Hey, I’m a communicator, and in thinking about my community, what’s going to make my neighbor watch the state of the city, what’s gonna make my daughter’s soccer coach watch this? Like, what’s the draw? And those are the type of things where we need to get creative and honestly do a lot better in government.

Kirsten Wyatt  25:27

And where do you find inspiration? I mean, the thing I that I always think about, if you go to ELGL.org, and you search for a state of the city, we’ve had a ton of people write about, you know, their experiences over the years or share their state of the city. So you know, second to that, what advice do you have for listeners who want to do something that’s more creative, more engaging, but aren’t sure where to start?

Kent Wyatt  25:53

So, you know, and this can apply for a lot of things in life, it’s set people up to succeed. So we’ve had a number of mayors, I’ve only worked directly for one on, state of the city, but along with our prior one, we tried some different things. And your first goal should be setting them up for success. So I think if you think about who your mayor is, in your, in your city that you work for where you live, like, Are they a comfortable public speaker, you know, they might be great at a 45 minute conversation, they might be able to tell crack jokes that are kind of unplanned for most likely, they’re not, they might be more comfortable in a type of sit down interview, like, like we’re doing in Tigard. They might be comfortable having other people play that role. You know, I’ve seen cities involve youth councils in it. I’ve seen them turn it over to high schools. So finding that mix, and obviously you can, you can still have the mayor as the centerpiece, but surround that Mayor with things that are interesting, funny, clever. I think that’s really, really what you want to do. That would be my first piece of advice, and, and ultimately the most important, because that’s what you’re being judged by. Did your mayor find your efforts productive? But secondly, you know, it’s like anything else. You know, it’s not, it’s not, it’s not always easy. So I think my ideas and creativity or borrow my creativity from anywhere and everywhere, I mean, podcasts, part of my take, which is a sports podcast, I could probably do a whole state of the city from stuff that I’ve heard from that podcast. But television shows. I’m really into Billions right now as you know? And yes, there’s things I could take from Billions, or will take from Billions, not maybe in this year’s day, the city, but there may be a phrase, there may be a way like the camera is used, there may be a back and forth. And I may be able to use that later. So it’s almost like, you know, I think you do a great job with this and ELGL staff of like, looking through that lens, regardless of what you’re doing. It may be, you know, maybe helping you, maybe helping your kid with his homework. And that sparks an idea. Because I think if it’s, it’s if it’s in your mind at all times, those things will click together. So that’s where I get my inspiration. And and the other thing is, it goes back to who you surround yourself with, like, hopefully you have some creative folks in your office that you work closely with. That’s not always the case, you probably do have a friend group that or a friend or family member who has creativity, like use use them. Like my father in law, who worked in state government and did speeches and communication like, you know, that’s somebody’s brain, I could pick if I needed to. So realizing, hey, there’s nothing stopping us from getting other people involved and other ideas, I think is really crucial. And so the good creativity really comes from anywhere and everywhere. And I either write them down, make a mental list, whatever you need to do. And if you get really frustrated, you can google best state of the cities and see what comes up. You never know what you’ll find, you know, if anything, there’s almost too much information to sort through now. But regardless of you know, the creativity or approach that you decide to use, just make sure it fits with your community. Like if your community is not known for having an engaging social media presence, they’re not they’re known more for putting out press releases and being Pretty close to the vest, you know, late night in Tigard is not going to work for you. It’s not going to feel authentic. It’s not going to, the community’s not going to connect with it. We’ve been working on building our communication fount of foundation for five or six years now. And it all started really, around trying to pass a local option Levy, and realizing, you know, that whole storytelling, while, a buzzword, is is true. Like, how do you find an interesting way to tell a story about an SRO or a park maintenance worker, and all of that can be done. And I think one of the reasons we first went out and failed on our levy is because people thought all of a sudden we’re giving them a sales job. They’re like, this is not what I’ve heard from y’all before, right. And so that foundation in your communications is really important. So that it may take a number of years to get where you want to go with building a great state of the city or, or building a website that you find more engaging, like, but don’t get frustrated, and find those opportunities where you can build that personality into your city communications.

Kirsten Wyatt  31:15

Tigard has been exemplary in the ways that you have ensured that all of your communications are translated into Spanish. You know, I know that you’ve looked at your demographics, and you’ve recognized that your Spanish speaking population is is is quite high. And so you know, you’ve built out a podcast, and I’ve seen your job ads, and you know, everything on your website. How are you approaching people who do not speak English and their engagement with your state of the city address?

Kent Wyatt  31:49

So that that’s been a challenge this year and I would say, we haven’t done as, as much as we can, or should or will next year. You’re right. In previous years, everything was translated. We really engaged with the Latino community to have them there. It’s not as easy this year, because of the nature of what we’re doing. So certainly, we’ve we’ve used some of our avenues to promote it. We have a Facebook group, that is for Spanish speaking community members, it’s basically invite only and, you know, it’s topics that are related to the community. So you know, sharing it in in those settings. As you I think referenced earlier, we have a podcast, podcast in Spanish. So we promote it that way. But you know, this, this is a point of frustration for me. And not not a Tigard thing. I mean, Tigard is just as guilty as anybody else. Any other city. But, you know, we’re not, we’re not, we’re not honoring our responsibility to reach all parts of our communities. Like I will argue with anybody about that we’re not like a local government, your responsibility is to reach all of your community. Anybody who’s, who’s involved, who’s paying taxes, who’s who’s using your services, using the library. And we’re not, we haven’t. And we’re finally I think some cities obviously have done better than others. I think those tend to be larger, larger cities. And we’re not because it takes it takes money. It takes time. I see it every day. We do design graphics requests. And it’s a last minute thought, right now in people’s heads. It’s like, Oh, yeah, we hate we need to do all these things. And then oh, yeah, we should translate this in the Spanish. And, you know, the way, the way I think you start to get at that though, and can change that is by who you hire. So we we had an incredible staffer, Eduardo Ramos, who’s, who was in my office and moved on in the City of Tiger to the City Manager’s Office for, for good reason. And we’re rehiring that position as bilingual required. I learned more in that year and a half when he was with us, then I’ve learned probably my whole life about how to how to really communicate authentically. Like that’s, that’s great. You have a flyer about a movie in the park, in Spanish, a flyer in Spanish about a movie in the park. But when I show up to that the movie is not in Spanish, none of the vendors have anything in Spanish. So it’s a half hearted effort, and one that is at times almost not worth doing. Because it doesn’t seem sincere unless you’re thinking things all the way through. And I think that’s that’s kind of the point we’re at in Tigard, like, devote the money and the resources to it. I mean, it’s like it’s like any initiative if the state of the city is important, you’ll put money behind it. If you’re building a new facility, you’ll put money behind it. If you’re committed to DEI, you’ll put money behind it. If you’re committed to translation and interpretation, you’ll put money behind it. And so follow the money. And I think it is past time that local governments get that and start to make real, real changes. I’ll say, lastly, on that just one thing we are doing that I’m proud of, this is an effort, this is an effort actually led by our Community Development department. But forming a leadership development group, and not not consisting of those people who show up at your council meetings to give public testimony every week, instead, formed of folks from underrepresented communities, formed with people who have never been to City Hall perhaps couldn’t tell you where City Hall is, have no idea how to apply for a job or volunteer. Building a cohort around that is a very meaningful and an important step. Once again, the challenge like we talked about internally a few weeks ago, so we had this group of, let’s say, 15, to 20 people, how do you keep them involved after they graduate from this program? And that will cause you to look in the mirror pretty quickly and realize you’re not, in our case, ill equipped to do that. Certainly, there’s some things we can change about that in the short term. But, you know, ultimately, that’s great, you’re going to develop leaders, but then you’re not going to offer them opportunities. So just as important that importance of thinking things all the way through. And that’s why I think it’s important to have diverse staff, or if you can’t have 10 white males and females sitting around talking about attracting the Latino community to get involved. It’s just, that’s a waste of time. And we need to get past that and have those meaningful opportunities. So that was a bit of a ramble. But one that I feel very passionate about and disappointed about from, from local government in general. This isn’t even Tigard specific. I would guess, if our listeners are honest to themselves, their organization is not thinking everything through on how to make those meaningful connections.

Kirsten Wyatt  37:20

This is a good time for me to give a little sneak peek into something that’s coming up in our cohort programs later this year. And it will be a cohort program dedicated to building out citizens Academy or Leadership Academy, for your community members. And we will be addressing topics like you know, how do you keep these people engaged after your curriculum is over? And how do you make sure that you’re getting fresh faces and not, you know, the STPs or the same 10 people that show up at all of your meetings. And so for our listeners, stay tuned for more information, I think that will be coming up in in either the third or the fourth quarter, to continue that level of engagement in your own communities, if that’s not something that you’ve that you’ve done yet. 

Kent Wyatt  38:06

I’m going to sign up for that. 

Kirsten Wyatt  38:08

You should, you should. I mean, and I think we can even you know, we probably would accept you. I mean, it might be a little a little tough to, you know, see if you’ve got the chops, but but we’ll see  I’ll have to get a letter of recommendation from somebody maybe. That that can that can be really helpful. The-

Kent Wyatt  38:25

Last thing I say is to think about what you’re putting out as your city, like, are you putting out stock photos of diversity Because if you are, and this has come up with when we’re creating our website, like I don’t want any stock picture on our website, and I especially don’t want to stock picture of diversity. That’s not that’s not diversity that’s tokenism. We want to have, we want to get to the point where if we go into an event, a movie in the park, that it’s not just a small group that fit into that diversity category. And so for a while, our imagery may be very place based and not very people based. But to me, that’s better than misleading, and making it seem like every event is just this big array of diversity. And so I think thinking about your imagery and your pictures, words you use, places you use in your videos or that you use for your council outreaches I think everybody can take a good look in the mirror and realize how much better needs to be done. And if you want an example of how it’s how it has been done, effectively the City of Seattle and actually Kathy Nylund, who is our Assistant City Manager did an incredible job of that for she’s happy to talk to folks about that but it really was the right way to do it and I hope others follow that lead.

Kirsten Wyatt  39:46

Alright, and last question if you could kind of wave a magic wand and have any celebrity guest appear in the late night with Tigard State of the City address. Who would you have picked?

Kent Wyatt  40:02

Oh geez. Who would I? Yeah, who would, who would I have picked? Or who would I pick of should the city pick?

Kirsten Wyatt  40:15

Let’s go both.

Kent Wyatt  40:16

Okay. I mean, for me, it’s easy. Michael Jordan would be who I would pick. Although I’ve, I’m racking my brain to see the tie in there. I guess the tie in would be that one of Nike’s original headquarters was located in Tigard.

Kirsten Wyatt  40:34

Well, maybe, maybe he hates illegal takings and would be really impressed with the Tigard V Dolan plaque.

Kent Wyatt  40:42

Yes. I mean, I think all of us are impressed by that, I’m sure if you haven’t had a chance to see that. Michael Jordan would be great to have. It from terms of the the city side of like, who would be there? You know, I don’t I don’t look at a name I look at. And this goes back to the last point of like, imagery. And like, Who is your face of the city? And this is this year where Mayor Snyder interviewed six or seven guests. And it’s an incredibly diverse group. And not even because we said, Hey, we have to have one person who fits into this category. It’s more of driven by the work that we’re doing on our public safety advisory board. It’s also driven by our small business community, and folks who had benefited from the Tigard CARES Act. So I think that you know, wouldn’t be anybody astounding in that group or, or you know, somebody that you would recognize name wise. I did think it would have been funny at the end in our like, Tigard Thanks thing to have, like some people like Damian Lillard, or the guy from modern family, Phil, the dad on there to say, say a few words. Although that doesn’t, once again, not Tigard related, but for the humor side, so yeah, if you have celebrities in your community, find ways to embrace them. Or I’ve, I’ve found one year, we had a band, Tigard high school band. And anytime you involve kids, you inevitably draw their parents, and then you draw the grandparents. and high schools or schools in general are a great way to get more people involved in what you’re doing as a city.

Kirsten Wyatt  42:36

All right, and your your very last question, if you could be the Gov Love DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

Kent Wyatt  42:46

Um, so I mean, it’s kind of easy. This is how we do it by Montel Jordan. I would request that you play the radio version of that song.

Kirsten Wyatt  42:58

Okay, we’ll make sure that Ben and Pizza Mike, use the correct version. So in case people are listening to this with kids in the car. Can I can I ask the host a question? Sure.

Kent Wyatt  43:10

So since you, you’ve obviously, you’re an OG, of ELGL, and we just talked about state of the cities, I think, a couple times, we’ve had articles written and podcasts on, state of the city. What’s, have you seen or heard of any particular creative approaches when it comes to state of the cities?

Kirsten Wyatt  43:28

So I think the advent of using multimedia and producing it like a video, you know, even before COVID, I think is a really neat way to make the speech more inclusive and share it with more people. I also think that, you know, kind of the old format of you know, the mayor just stands behind a podium, and like, you know, reads a speech, you know, definitely needed some updating. And so I think we could look at COVID as being, you know, one of the one of the silver linings of COVID, could be allowing it to become a little bit more creative and accessible. I’m always a huge fan of when the State of the City can share the upcoming goals for the year with the community as a way to kind of, you know, tell the path that that the community is on. And so I think that timing sometimes can be really important to, you know, do your goal setting and then weave that in. And I think it also gives us a sense of, you know, here’s kind of a sneak peek of what’s to come this year, or what we’re prioritizing. So I’m always a big fan of that. And again, I think you know, making people feel as though this is their chance to kind of be in the know and understand what’s going on by you know, weaving them into the speech is always a great idea and I love how you know, with the Tigard CARES program and with your local businesses, being able to incorporate you know, real people And not just have it be that one voice reminds people of how accessible local government can and and should be. So those are, those are my, those are my preferences. I think what makes me cringe is when, what a couple of things like one is like trying to have someone who’s not funny be funny. I think that that’s always a little awkward. And my other like number one pet peeve are barbershop quartets. And I feel like a lot of state of the cities that I’ve seen they like start off with like a jaunty barbershop quartet song, and I have to leave the room or can’t watch because all I can do is imagine you a barbershop quartet with a little hat, singing and jumping around and it makes me laugh so hard that it’s disrespectful. So. So yeah, so awkward humor and barbershop quartets are my like, absolute like no fly items for a state of the city.

Kent Wyatt  46:01

Yeah, the other thing I think to consider too, is location, like this year, limited. But, for example, we have the Muslim educational trust in Tigard. This year would have been a great year to have it there if we could have because of, you know, the theme of diversity, equity inclusion, but yeah, we in past years, we’ve had it at the Broadway Rose Theatre. But thinking about are there community centers are there are there even restaurants in parts of the town that you don’t get to, like the location that to me really sets the tone of how inclusive it is, I mean, if if you’re going to have it at Whole Foods, I think that paints a picture of what this events gonna be like in somebody’s head, as opposed to having it at the YMCA or something like that. So definitely think about location. I’m excited when we can get back to that time where we can actually have options when it comes to location.

Kirsten Wyatt  46:57

In one of the communities I worked for, we served food, like appetizers and like sparkling cider. And I think, you know, like with anything and local government, when there’s food, provided, it’s always, you know, that’s always a draw as well. So, again, when we get back to in person events, maybe next year, you need to have some Tigard themed foods at your state of the city.

Kent Wyatt  47:21

Well, if you’re going to give away something, like don’t give away another pen. Give away, something connected to the event, and a Beaverton did this last year, we didn’t, we hadn’t planned on copying them. But we we were doing it too. We give away recyclable grocery bags because of the plastic bag ban. And this year, we’re mailing or have mailed face masks to folks who have Tigard branded face masks. Like those are the things, like that’s meaningful swag. Nobody needs an eraser or pen that can do four different colors. Find a way that you can connect it a little bit more to what you are as a city.

Kirsten Wyatt  47:58

Well, all great advice. And hopefully for our listeners, if you are still working on your community’s state of the city, some of this has been helpful. Or if you’re just planning ahead already for next year. You know, we encourage you to reach out to Kent and any of our members who work in the communications field and are in charge of of this important in once a year of speech. So thank you, Kent, for coming on and joining us today.

Kent Wyatt  48:23

Thank you and Happy birthday to you.

Kirsten Wyatt  48:25

Happy birthday to you. Alright, so this ends our episode for today. I want to thank you for coming on and talking with me from upstairs. Gov Love is produced by a rotating cast of ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. You can reach us at ELGL.org or on Twitter  @ELGL50 and @GovLovePodcast. And I also have some exciting news to end this podcast with. Tickets for ELGL pop ups are on sale! ELGL pop ups are our approach to regional conferencing. And this year, we’re hosting them virtually on May 21st. These events are a great way to learn more about regional local government topics. Tickets are $10 for students, $40 per person, or $80 for an all access pass to attend any region sessions and everything will be recorded and available on demand. And we also have volume discounts if you want to sign up your whole team. You can visit ELGLPopUps.com to save your spot. So with that, thank you for listening. This has been Gov Love, a podcast about local government.


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