#NCLGBA18 Recap Series: “Take Me Back”

Over the last few weeks, we have featured reflections on the 2018 Winter Conference. 

Our final #NCLGBA18 Conference Recap comes from Brian Pahle, Assistant City Manager, City of Hendersonville.

Winter Conference 2018 at Dugan’s…I mean Pinehurst…Take me Back

It wasn’t long into my four hour drive from the sand hills of eastern NC back to my home in Hendersonville that I dove into a deep mental sabbatical pondering the happenings of the conference and what it means to be a local government professional in North Carolina. These monotonous travels are no stranger to me and have become one of my favorite times to reflect. So, it is no wonder that upon returning home I was well prepared to write a conference recap at the request of our great Marketing Coordinator, Heather Curry! This conference was truly special and as many conferences do, generated a thought-provoking, creative, mind befuddling response from my inner psyche. I left this conference feeling proud, concerned, enlightened, and inspired all at the same time. My reflection below will explain each of these moments.

A Sense of Pride and Hope in our Profession

The best part about these conferences is that I get the opportunity to interact with and learn from people that are much more intelligent than myself. When I first joined the Association in 2014 I did not quite know what to expect. Would it be all technical, would I relate with other members and make friends, or would it be more continuous education similar to the UNC School of Government’s courses? To my pleasant surprise, I stumbled upon an active, dedicated, inspiring, and fun membership that made me feel welcome. These members were sharing ideas, thinking creatively, and strategizing together about how to solve current local issues.

This past conference promised a powerful agenda and a room full of even more powerful speakers…and it DELIVERED! I left this conference feeling extremely proud that I get to interact with such a talented group of individuals. I also, felt a sense of hope that our future local government professionals will continue to improve on the path that has been already forged before us. From sharing the stage with superwoman Heather Drennan and an amazing leader Brian Barnett, to exchanging ideas at Dugan’s on career advancement with Eric Olmedo, and meeting an inspiring and confident young student who is interested in a budget career in Zach Lewis. All of these interactions, plus many more, highlight how diverse, exemplary, and talented our Association members are. The more we have the opportunity to share ideas and demonstrate our own unique strategies and qualities the better. We have a great Association that enables and encourages exactly that and I could not be more proud to be a member.

Concerning Trends – Help!

Something that had everyone in the room nodding was affordable housing and infrastructure needs. I found myself holding my jaw up as Jeff Staudinger rattled off the number of affordable units needed in various cities across our State. As Julie Porter discussed the Charlotte project, I sat silently thinking about our existing undocumented/unregulated 100 year old landfill that is currently playing a role in a brownfield redevelopment for our revival of on old mill building for affordable housing. What left me feeling most concerned was thinking about the infrastructure sitting idly by that is needed to support these housing projects and other critical economic functions of a successful local economy. Dr. Mike Walden highlighted the importance roads are going to play in our economic future, and more importantly where the funding will come from to support their construction. Even moreover is the battle of NIMBY-ism and YIMBY-ism that we are seeing everyday as our community battles with the 8 NCDOT projects proposed over the next 5 years. I sat in my car, feeling concerned about how we are going to address these major issues but also feel that we are up to the challenge.

Seeking Enlightenment – NCLGBA Inquire Within

An additional sense of pride, which also lent itself to enlightening my understanding of the profession, resulted from our discussions on equity, inclusion, gender and race. We are a diverse Association and I do not face the same challenges that others in our profession face on a daily basis. So, these sessions were uncharted territory for myself and I am sure many others. Uncharted, unfamiliar, and unknown are not things that scare me nor are they things that I avoid. Quite the opposite, I was excited to have these sessions on the agenda and felt motivated to explore more avenues for equity and inclusion in my work and daily life. The courage our speakers, members, and Association display by taking on these issues is welcomed and revered. I hope to see these continue as I still have so much to learn from our members and friends. Thank you to all of those who made these sessions possible, and let’s keep them going!

I Live for Happiness, Luckily Work is a Part of That

I took one exception with the “Life is Too Short” session and that is that you should not “live to work”. This is certainly applicable if you do not enjoy your job, or you grow frustrated with showing up to work every day. However, for me, this is not the case. I love my job and I love the community I work in. I could not tell you how many times my wife has had to smack me across the head to get me to shut up about my excitement for new storm drains or traffic lights (maybe there is something wrong the way I think, or maybe it is all the smacking, who knows). Nonetheless, I left this conference again, inspired to make improvements in my life and in my community. With the powers of understanding my amygdala hijack and having the right attitude, “I can do this”, I came back to work with a fresh set of tools, ideas, and motivation to help our community succeed. I hope you did too and cannot wait to see you this summer!

P.S. – Rumor has it that Josh Edwards is leading a session on how to champion a culture of innovation at work at the summer 2019 conference #DurhamiTeamRocks #TheChampsHere