By Val Nosler Beck
Wheaties Academy is a local leadership program providing community members with the inspiration and skills to turn ideas into action from the ground up. I joined the 2018 Wheaties Academy class after a failed Wheat Ridge City Council run. I applied because I love Wheat Ridge, but honestly, after the election, I needed a relationship reboot with my community.
The 2018 participants are diverse in every way – age, race, parents, retirees, renters, homeowners, introverts, extroverts, liberals, conservatives, Wheat Ridge natives and new comers. This diversity makes our work sessions energetic, sometimes heated and always action-oriented.
As Wheaties, we are each placed in a cohort that focuses on a local issue. One group is exploring attainable housing. Another is focused on supporting current business and attracting new business to Wheat Ridge. My cohort is part of the good government and civic engagement group. We decided to delve into opportunities and challenges of civic engagement in Wheat Ridge. We each bravely took a turn speaking at a city council meeting or reaching out to city staff. We are putting together a video that says, “Hey, if we can do it, so can you!” This end product will be a great resource, and we hope to make more videos to help engage residents.
Throughout this process, we’ve learned the importance of working together to make positive changes in our community. It sounds easy, but sometimes it’s challenging. In our group, everyone had different skills and resources that they brought to the table. As we finish up our project, we now have more tools and people to work with in the future.
The Wheaties are ready to graduate. We have all learned the skills to listen, work together and get things done for Wheat Ridge. We tackled important issues with our cohorts and also worked together to get a new piece of public art installed at Anderson Pool. Go check it out this summer. We hope you enjoy it!
It is a privilege that our city government understands the importance of community engagement and supports Localworks and Wheaties Academy. The reboot I was looking for in my relationship with my community has taken full effect, and I am refreshed and energized. I also have a lot more friends that I can run into at RidgeFest, the pool, Bardo and Colorado Plus.
It has been an honor to be a part of Wheaties Academy 2018.
Val Nosler Beck is Director of Executive Operations for Governor John Hickenlooper, a member of Renewal Wheat Ridge and a member on the Wheat Ridge Cultural Commission.