Monday, August 17, 2015

Deeds/word: "the speed of trust"

 "Change comes at the speed of trust."

We know our strength comes from the people who are here. We are a community of diverse backgrounds and diverse needs. We have learned that the more we serve the needs of people, the more economic success will follow. - Patrick Seeb

Terms of art 

Last week the Twin Cities PR firm that handles DMC media relations issued a press release announcing the hiring of Patrick Seeb as the EDA's "Director of Economic Development and Placemaking".  "Placemaking" is a term of art that has been around for a while. It's inclusion in Seeb's job title may be a hopeful sign or maybe not. We'll have to wait and see. But, Seeb knows that already which may also be a hopeful sign - or not.

It took over a year and around $13,000 for the EDA to remove "interim" from Lisa Clarke's job title last spring and start calling her Executive Director. So, even though Seeb is not the first EDA hire, he feels like it.

The PR firm assures us that DMCC and EDA leadership are thrilled by their decision to hire Seeb: "stellar leadership experience" (attributed to Bolton) "proven record of partnership and collaboration" (attributed to Smith). All in all a good fit, says the executive director, and doesn't it just go to show what a great place we are that'd he come work for us. So, all the right words. Said by the people you'd expect to say them. Everything you'd want in an announcement of a new hire.

And Seeb? Well, he is, of course, "excited". But, apart from being excited - and "being excited" about D-M-C is de rigueur - what else has Seeb said? As it turns out, he's said some interesting things.

Terms of Service

A former top deputy to Mayor Norm Coleman, Patrick Seeb has served as executive director of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation since March 1995. In May of this year, writing on the eve of the 21st Annual Great River Gathering in St. Paul, Seeb reflected on those 20 years at the Riverfront Corporation.

"The work this community has done and the systems we have put in place," he wrote, "ensure that our city is a place that honors the past, looks confidently toward the future, invites all to engage and always supports its increasingly diverse population."

Seeb called out "successes in historic preservation, the arts, riverfront renewal, transportation and community diversity."
With the support of many people and organizations, public art has become a priority. We have poems etched into our sidewalks, support for public art enshrined in a city ordinance..... 
Preservation and renovation of solid old buildings has become the first choice, not an afterthought. We have begun to understand bicycling and walking are real modes of transportation that make our streets more vital and interesting.
He shared with the Post Bulletin that, "My work, and my success, has always been based on my relationship with the community." Adding that making the city attractive to those who already live and work here is where the work of attracting visitors, patients, and new residents should begin. According to the local reporting, Seeb will become one of those people who live and work in Rochester early next month.

Even though it sounds a bit too cute for Seeb to say he became interested in the job because of the DMC branding - "America's city for health" - it could well be sincere, or at least sincere-ish.

In May the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation produced the 4th Annual Placemaking Residency: Moving the Twin Cities to Better Health. In a piece that appeared over his name and that of Kathryn Correia the president and CEO of HealthEast, the event is described as a week where:
Participants are exploring critical questions like: How do we measure the impact on a city’s economy if more resources are invested in walking and biking infrastructure? What role does affordable housing play in supporting greater health stability for its residents? How does the natural environment contribute to better health outcomes?
How do we disrupt patterns that have led to distinctly poorer health outcomes for people from some neighborhoods when compared to others? What design and policy decisions have resulted in food deserts? What are the best examples of multi-generational play and recreation areas and what can we do to create more of these?
Though the clip below ends on a joke that falls flat with this crowd and there's a bit of an obligatory sponsor love-fest at the beginning, here is Seeb, introduced by Correia, speaking about the Placemaking Residency:

A few years ago, reflecting on "a thing or two" the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation has learned about "city building," Seeb offered these lessons:
1. Commit to Guiding Principles
2. Take the Long View
3. Work Collaboratively
4. Be Persistent
5. Celebrate Success
6. Build on Current Assets
7. Respond to Market Forces
8. Encourage Debate
Writing more recently at what is now the close of his tenure, he observed, "During those 20 years, public participation in city building has changed from input to engagement and now to power-sharing."

In Rochester where we suffer from engagement fatigue, where input is often of the "thank you very much for your time please take some cookies with you when you leave" variety, getting some of this "power-sharing" thing sounds kind of nice - even a bit "exciting". Sooner the better.

Term Limits: deeds "in accordance with" words

The local story on Seeb's hiring has him referring to "the old adage: 'Change comes at the speed of trust.'"

First of all, "speed" is an interesting term to introduce into a process that has not been known for speed. For all the hurry up of the DMC legislative strategy, since its passage in May 2013 we've had a whole lot of what feels more like wait.

Secondly, the adage isn't all that old. "Speed of trust" is part of several trademarks filed since 2006 by Covey/Link LLC and likely copyrighted that same year as a book by the same title. So, "speed of trust" like "America's city for health" is kind of a brand thing. Anyway, the phrase has made the rounds, breaking free of its marketing origins and the product line of leadership soap it sells. Nothing wrong with marketing origins. That's how we got the Pledge of Allegiance. Who knows where Seeb picked up the phrase.

Even though the holders of trademarks and copyrights on "speed of trust" also offer up a math-ish formula where trust is a multiplier and makes it all look like something you could pay money to learn, when I read it coming from Seeb my thoughts went elsewhere.

How would you measure the speed of trust?  DPW, I think. Trust moves at a rate of deeds per word. Except "per" here means not "for each" but rather "in accordance with".

Before we really get to know Patrick Seeb, we will probably have to endure a bit more of the right people saying the right words about him and the excitement we must all be feeling that he has come to Rochester at this exciting time where we are all so excited by D-M-C. It's a rite of passage. A bit embarrassing for all involved, but there it is.

Frankly, I kind of like the words the guy uses when he talks about the work. And like I said at the beginning, what deeds come of these words is something about which we'll just have to wait and see. The reason I think Seeb understands that already is he seems to know that "Change comes at the speed of trust." Or so he says anyway.

Welcome to Rochester, Mr. Seeb. Where you now work, we used to boil and consume crustaceans.

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