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Published August 06, 2011, 09:47 PM

Encouraging Civic Engagement

Grand Forks citizens had the opportunity to get involved with local government decisions through civic engagement tonight. City Council member Tyrone Grandstrand hosted the event, and the topic focused on the local library.

After voters rejected a sales tax increase to build a new library, city council member Tyrone Grandstrand now wants to get people more involved in discussions.

"We can find ideas that the community members have and we can actually develop those ideas to something that maybe we wouldn't have come up with amongst the experts and the elected officials," City Council Member Tyrone Grandstrand said.

The topic of tonight's informal civic engagement was, "What should a library be for Grand Forks?" That left it open for discussion about what a library is, what it does, and what it should do for the people of this community.

"People share ideas that you'd never think they would have. The people that you least expect to come up with a good idea, do. And that's what's really great," Grandstrand said.

Grandstrand called tonight's engagement a test run for something he hopes the city will do on a much larger scale when big issues come up in the future.

"If you have a longer process and you ask people what their ideas are, you can usually come up with something that sort of fits what the community wants rather than just having an idea and then saying 'Yes or no community. What do you think?'," Grandstrand said.

Grandstrand even invited fellow council member Eliot Glassheim to join.

"Basically I'm trying to convince him or show him that it actually works out really well, and that people don't fight. And so far its' been really good, no one has been fighting," Grandstrand added.

He wants to prove that good ideas can come from this type of community engagement.

"It actually helps democracy a lot," Grandstrand said.

Grandstrand says that this type of engagement really benefits the entire community and allows ideas and information to generate in a new way.