Residents of Provo are not as involved in the community as they should be, according to Mayor John Curtis.
Curtis came to the BYU campus on Thursday Oct. 29, 2015, to speak on something he feels is being severely neglected in the Provo City community: civic engagement.
The mayor said the vast majority of Provo City residents are not involved in things that will greatly affect them.
“They can’t find the right engagement opportunity,” Curtis said.
Curtis then posted a list of the various organizations and categories that a citizen could participate in: parks, recreation, charity funds and even volunteering for a campaign.
The unfortunate truth, Curtis explained, is that nothing happens when he refers people to this list, and they all come back wanting to intern in his office, thinking that it is the only and best way to be involved in their community.
Curtis said there is an abundance of opportunities all around them, but everyone seems to be looking for that “perfect” fit or that “perfect” opportunity to help their community.
Some people are not involved because they really don’t know how to help. This is one of his motivations for the blog that he writes, ProvoInsider. He said he receives questions all the time about how residents can become active members of their community, or what is being done to fix a certain issue.
Curtis said he recently sent a survey to the residents of Provo asking them about their community service. Seventy-six percent of residents reported that they are neutral or satisfied with their disengagement in the community, according to Curtis.
He said the excuse for some is the claim they don’t have enough time.
“Every phase of your life is busier than the phase you just left,” Curtis said.
The mayor gave an example of a “mega-neighborhood meeting” that was held a few months ago. The meeting was intended for residents of six different neighborhoods to attend.
Of everyone that lived in those six neighborhoods, one man showed up.
“The whole reason he came is because he’s the former parks director for Provo City, and he wanted to see what was going on,” Curtis said.
In the past Curtis received many emails about what he was going to do to make downtown Provo a fun place to be. He used the good example of someone who decided to take action: Courtney Kendrick, who launched the idea that eventually turned into Provo City Rooftop Concert Series. The Rooftop Concert Series has become so big that Provo City blocks off the entire west-side of Center Street to host these events.
Curtis said one of the greatest things about Provo is that it has reached national recognition as one of the safest places to live in the United States. He explained one of the biggest crutches that stops the improvement of Provo is that so many people have all these ideas of how to make it better, but no one does anything to make it happen.
One of the best things students and residents can do to get involved is to identify their strengths and figure out how they can use those strengths to contribute to the community.