Mayor of Denver John Hickenlooper delivered his annual "State of the City" address yesterday in the atrium of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building. I decided to travel downtown and listen to him live and in person. I'm the guy in the photo above with his foot sticking out into the center aisle (it was cramped, okay?).
You can view a complete transcript of the speech here: http://www.movedigital.com/go/spinwizard/127057/2008_state_of_the_city.pdf
I am learning that in order to minister in the city—to love and serve the city, and introduce people to Jesus—you must know the city. Admittedly, in an address such as Hickenlooper’s the city is putting its best foot forward, but I still think listening in can be a helpful way to learn.
Hickenlooper spoke briefly (but emphatically) about public safety, explaining the measures that have been taken to make Denver a safe city. He then moved to talking about education, saying of several educational programs, "These programs represent the priceless currency of opportunity."
In recent weeks, I have been listening to some of Barack Obama's more important speeches from the campaign trail, and this seems to be a common thread. Education means opportunity. Education means a better city. Education means a better America.
But does it? What if an individual has a great education but poor moral values? Will we have a better city?
We need education infused with virtue. This, to me, is a more complete picture than education alone (though it is still not the whole picture).
Hickenlooper spent the greater portion of his address talking about how Denver is going green (and particularly how these efforts intersect with economic interests). "Sustainability has come to mean the strategies that promote economic development while also protecting our environment and improving our quality of life. Some would suggest that these goals are in conflict. In truth they are inseparable," he said.
A few highlights: RTD's FasTracks program is bringing 122 miles of new light rail/commuter rail to the area, as well as adding over 21,000 new parking spaces at existing transit Park-n-Rides. Denver's bicycle system is being expanded both in Denver proper and in its northern suburbs. With respect to sustainable green building and development practices, the city government is going to lead by example: any and all new municipal construction projects will be pursued according to green building standards (http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19). A forthcoming solar plant at DIA will generate 3.5 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year. Hickenlooper proudly reported: "Denver was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of 12 Solar Cities nationwide." Finally, Hickenlooper described how, currently, a commercial building can have a certified energy audit; then he asked: "Why couldn't a similar program be created for people's homes?"
When all was said and done, Hickenlooper did not introduce any new initiatives (and this is not a bad thing: there is plenty going on already, and the city should not bite off more than it can chew). I think he puts too much hope in education. Education alone will not give us a better city. We need our young people to receive a great education and be infused with virtue (which really means we need Jesus). I found his talk about going green to be encouraging, overall.