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Longfellow Girl Scout Troop 16566 learns ‘every voice matters’

Posted on 18 December 2017 by calvin

Eleven Dowling Elementary fifth graders in Girl Scout Troop 16566 are concerned about safety on the streets around their school, and they went to city hall on Nov. 29 to ask the City Council to do something about it.

Nine of the 11 troop members also serve on the safety patrol at Dowling.

Photo right: Girl Scout spokesperson Hadley Dobish, age 10, asks city council members to consider street safety improvements around Dowling Elementary School, and all other schools in the city during a council budget hearing on Nov. 29. (Photo submitted)

“First of all, we would like to have 4-way stop signs at the intersection of E. 38th St. and Edmund Blvd., and at the intersection of Dowling St. and Edmund Blvd., and at the entrance to the school parking lot at Dowling St. and 48th Ave.,” said spokesperson Hadley Dobish, age 10, during the City Council budget hearing. “I do safety patrol on those corners, on different days, and I can tell you that cars go way too fast and careless through all these intersections.”

“Secondly, we propose to make Edmund Blvd. a one-way, southbound street, starting at Dowling St. until Folwell Dr.” Dobish continued during her two-minute speech. “All the school buses line up along Edmund Blvd., and the street is just too narrow to have traffic in both directions plus parents trying to drop kids off and cross in front of buses. And if someone is parked on the street, then two-way traffic is near impossible.

“We, as Girl Scouts and as safety patrol, agree that if we can get this short stretch of street, turned into a one-way street, it would be a great benefit to the whole community, to keep kids safe.”
The Girl Scouts didn’t stop there.

“Ideally, we hope the city can look at all intersections around schools in Minneapolis, and make sure that all schools have as many stop signs and safety considerations as possible,” said Dobish. “In this day of distracted driving with cell phones, we think it is necessary for these precautions to keep kids safe.

“Thank you for listening, and for helping us figure out how to make our ideas a reality and improve our city!”

The Girl Scouts were the first on the meeting agenda, because, as City Council President Barb Johnson, explained, she had been a Girl Scout and a troop leader.

“In my four years of listening to the public while considering the budget, these speakers really stood out; they clearly identified their concerns, brought forward potential solutions, and even had an accompanying illustration (a first!),” remarked Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson. “They tied their localized concerns (at Dowling school) to a broader ask for more city-wide attention to school safety. I could tell that the full City Council was just as impressed with them as I was.”

Photo left: Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson chats with members of Girl Scout Troop 16566 in the city hall chambers during a visit on Nov. 29. The Girl Scouts learned about the importance of citizen involvement in government. (Photo submitted)

The council ultimately passed a budget that included two new positions dedicated to improving pedestrian safety, and part of their work will be focused on schools. The ideas from the Girl Scout Troop were also duly noted and are being looked into, according to Johnson.

Girl Scout members include Dowling Elementary fifth-graders Dobish, Violet Mueller, Emilie Numrich, Maura Davis, Yossi Enestvedt, Suzi Priest, Soledad Serena, Khloe Albertson, Hazel Murphy, Abby May, and Giovanna Zanabria.

Dobish’s mom, Leah Drury, serves as co-leader of the troop that formed when the girls were in first grade. “Marian Wright Edelman’s quote, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ has always resonated with me as a parent, and now as a Girl Scout troop leader,” observed Drury.

“I hope that by exposing the girls in the troop to even a small sliver of what happens in City Hall and in Minneapolis government,” Drury added, “it will contribute to their growing world view and leadership skills—and we will see strong female leaders emerge from this experience in the not-so-distant future!”

Striving towards highest honor
In addition to attending and speaking at the city council meeting, the Girl Scouts also toured city hall and had dinner with some of the females working behind the scenes to make things happen in city government.

Their excursion and work preparing for it earned them each an “Inside Government” badge. They are also striving to earn the Bronze award, one of the highest honors a Girl Scout Junior can earn. It requires working together as a group to identify a need in the community, and put in 20 hours of service to do something that will have a lasting impact.

“Our troop has been talking all fall about, ‘What can we do to help our city?’ And we decided to keep it local and connected to our school, since we spend so much time there!” explained Dobish, who met council member Johnson during a block part in her Ericsson neighborhood earlier this year. During that conversion, Johnson suggested that her Girl Scout troop visit city hall, and then helped arrange it, timing it with the city’s budget hearing.

Every voice matters
Troop 16566 is part of the Lake Nokomis/Stone Arch Service Unit in the River Valleys Girl Scout Council. This year, the national council has launched the G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leadership) experience. The focus is on four areas of leadership: STEM, Outdoor Skills, Entrepreneurship and Life Skills.

“Our troop is working towards being future leaders, and they were so honored to have the women leaders of our city take time to eat pizza with them,” remarked Co-Leader Karrie Mueller, who lives in Morris Park. “The girls also enjoyed hearing about our women leaders’ childhood ‘aha’ moments which propelled them into the leadership/civil service positions they hold today.”

Photo right: Members of Girl Scout Troop 16566 post outside Minneapolis City Hall after touring it, attending a reception with female department heads, and speaking during a city council budget hearing on Nov. 29. Girl Scout members include Dowling Elementary fifth-graders Hadley Dobish, Violet Mueller, Emilie Numrich, Maura Davis, Yossi Enestvedt, Suzi Priest, Soledad Serena, Khloe Albertson, Hazel Murphy, Abby May, and Giovanna Zanabria. Troop leaders are Leah Drury and Karrie Mueller. (Photo submitted)

The leaders the Girl Scouts met with included: Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant, Director of Public Works Robin Hutcheson, Deputy Director of Public Works/City Engineer Lisa Cerney, Regulatory Services Operations Director Kim Keller, Director of Civil Rights Velma Korbel, Director of Human Resources Patience Ferguson, and Deputy City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde.

“The girls learned about how they can make an impact on a local level, and that there are many people behind the scenes all working to make Minneapolis work and are continually working to improve the city. Meeting the women in charge of the departments of engineering, regulatory services, civil rights, and more, opened up their view of the ways to be involved,” stated Drury. “Seeing the hallways full of people waiting for their turn to speak to the council, and listening to some the speakers share their requests for the city budget, also made quite an impact about the importance of citizen involvement and how every voice matters.”

Johnson remarked, “As these girls grow up and choose career paths they are passionate about, I hope they consider public service—they can be the civil engineers, public health professionals, firefighters, animal care and control veterinarians, department leaders, and council members of tomorrow!”

He added, “The younger you are, the longer you’ll have to live with the decisions being made, so help make them!”


Highlights of Girl Scout Troop 16566’s visit to Minneapolis City Hall

Hadley Dobish
“I liked the huge statue called Mississippi and that it was good luck to rub his toe. I needed that good luck before I talked in a microphone in front of the City Council. I also learned that there are way more jobs involved in running the city than you think. I liked learning about animal control!”

Yossi Enestvedt
“There were a lot of women working there at the top, like the woman engineer who had worked there a long time, and it was cool to see a lot of women in the room who were in charge along with the men. It was an experience that was amazing to me, and I want to go back again!”

Maura Davis
“[The best part was] seeing some of the cool things such as the statues and the tiles engraved by people and the fake marble in the building. I also enjoyed going to the city council meeting and seeing the cool designs on the wall and listening to people speak. While we were eating pizza, I also enjoyed hearing important women talk to us about their jobs and getting to ask them questions.”

Soledad Serena
“Some of the highlights about visiting City Hall were: Learning about the jobs of the people who work at City Hall, visiting the library, and learning about some of the history of City Hall.”

Violet Mueller
“Got to meet some really cool people like the mayor-elect, but the most amazing was all the GIRL POWER that runs our city- yeah! The man of the Mississippi statue was pretty cool, too, and it turns out he has a lucky toe.”

Khloe Albertson
“The people that worked there were the best part because I like the job that they do. It seems like a really cool job.”

Emilie Numrich
“I really liked that I was able to see the whole City Hall and learn how it was built. It was exciting to have some of my friends speak to the City Council. I really liked meeting the new Mayor. Thank you to the City Council members for allowing us to do this. I am glad that my City Council Member Andrew Johnson was a nice as I thought he would be.”

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