Friday, April 16, 2010

Snapshot of American Fork's Library

On April 12, in honor of library week, the American Fork library participated in Snapshot 2010, an effort to chronicle a day in the life of Utah libraries. Library staff collected stories, photographs, and statistics to show the great value that libraries consistently provide to the community.

Librarians also solicited short testimonials from patrons who dropped in that day. Here follow just a few of the love letters American Fork's people wrote to their library.
"It is an escape for my son and I. We participate in the Mom and Me classes and get new books each week. He looks forward to it each week and even though he is only two, I feel the library has helped to encourage his love of reading."
"My family loves the library. We come every week and check out our limit of 40 books. We read every day. It saves us money because we don't have to buy the books we read for book group or the whole series of Boxcar Children. My daughter has decided to read all 115 books."
"The library expands my children's knowledge by providing experiences as they interact in library programs and learn about the world around them and read books they would otherwise not have access to. This library also benefits our family dynamics by providing opportunities for families to participate together in various community programs."
"I love coming to the library! They do so many activities to involve families in reading. My kids love the different parties, classes, and story times. My children love to read and we have lots to choose from, although more would be better. You can never have too many books!"
"We can check out books and not have to purchase them."
"Encourages reading! It is a great place for my children to use books, discover reading, and increase imagination."
"I come to read books and for a fast Internet connection."
"The library is where my family and I can come to learn and enjoy time together."
"We love the library and all it provides for our family. I love the story time -- and the summer programs. I love the variety of books. Thank you and keep up the good work."
"I have been a patron of this library for 30 years. It helps me keep abreast of current events and review the history of our community, state, and nation."
"Libraries are an important resource for any community. They provide cheap entertainment, knowledge of all kinds, and help when you need it for many of life's transitions. I have been a library patron since I was little and passed on my love of books and the library to my family. They are an important component of free society."

AF Library Tenth Anniversary Celebration!

It was ten whole years ago, in April 2000, that my family joined in the book brigade wherein hundreds of helpful library patrons passed books hand-to-hand from the library's temporary warehouse on Pacific Drive to its present and beautiful location in Robinson Park. Library lovers won't want to miss the fun anniversary events planned this month:

Candyland Late Night, Friday, April 16 (tonight!), 7:00 p.m. -- Children of all ages will love the opportunity to be in the library after hours, enjoying a late night Candyland activity including treats and games. Admission is a gift from the library wish list -- donate when you pre-register at the circulation desk. Gifts will be opened during the evening. Registration is limited to 100 children, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Unfortunately, this event is already SOLD OUT -- but if you want to take your chances, I heard there may be a few slots still available tonight for those who come bearing gifts.

Bibliophile Treasure Night, Wednesday, April 21, 6:30 p.m. -- Bring a book that you treasure to share with other book lovers. The book can be old, interestingly bound, or beautifully illustrated. These are not necessarily books you recommend for others to read, but books from your personal library you'd like to tell about. Please bring no more than three books. You may also bring new or gently used books to swap. Organizers are asking for adults only at this event. Mayor Hadfield tells me he'll be bringing his favorite Clive Custler titles.

"Go the Extra Mile" 5K Run/Walk Fundraiser for the Library -- This is the second annual Volunteer Week 5K Run/Walk, and this year the proceeds will benefit programs and supplies at the library. All ages and abilities are invited to participate. Registration is $20 and may be completed in person at the library or online by following this link. The event takes place at the NEW! and EXCITING! Art Dye Trail.

Ice Cream Social, Monday, April 26, 7:00 p.m. -- Come one, come all, and celebrate with a giant ice cream sundae. Purchase $1 paper scoops at the library any time during the month of April, and help us build a dessert of mammoth proportions. Proceeds will benefit the library's collections. On the evening of the 26th, join us to redeem your scoops for actual ice cream. Enjoy your treat while you take a walk down memory lane, perusing the art tiles in the children's library. Then look forward to the future by participating in a time capsule activity. We'll include letters from children detailing what they think libraries and reading will be like in years to come, as well as items of significance to be discovered by library users of the future.

All events (excepting the 5K) will take place at the American Fork Library at 64 South 100 East. Call the library with any questions at (801) 763-3070.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Library Week!

National Library Week begins next week on April 11. In honor of the occasion, my blog today quotes Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, on the subject of creativity and culture. See if this doesn't make you grateful for our library!

There is an experiment I'd love to conduct. I'd like to survey a cross-section of Americans and ask them how many active NBA players, Major League Baseball players, and American Idol finalists they can name.

Then I'd ask them how many living American poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, architects, classical musicians, conductors, and composers they can name.

I'd even like to ask how many living American scientists or social thinkers they can name.

Fifty years ago, I suspect that along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax, most Americans could have named, at the very least, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Georgia O'Keeffe, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention scientists and thinkers like Linus Pauling, Jonas Salk, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, and especially Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

I grew up mostly among immigrants, many of whom never learned to speak English. But at night watching TV variety programs like the Ed Sullivan Show or the Perry Como Music Hall, I saw—along with comedians, popular singers, and movie stars—classical musicians like Jascha Heifetz and Arthur Rubinstein, opera singers like Robert Merrill and Anna Moffo, and jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong captivate an audience of millions with their art.

The same was even true of literature. I first encountered Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, Lillian Hellman, and James Baldwin on general interest TV shows. All of these people were famous to the average American—because the culture considered them important.

Today no working-class or immigrant kid would encounter that range of arts and ideas in the popular culture. Almost everything in our national culture, even the news, has been reduced to entertainment, or altogether eliminated.

The loss of recognition for artists, thinkers, and scientists has impoverished our culture in innumerable ways, but let me mention one. When virtually all of a culture's celebrated figures are in sports or entertainment, how few possible role models we offer the young.

Everything now is entertainment. And the purpose of this omnipresent commercial entertainment is to sell us something. American culture has mostly become one vast infomercial.

Don't get me wrong. I love entertainment, and I love the free market. I have a Stanford MBA and spent 15 years in the food industry. I adore my big-screen TV. The productivity and efficiency of the free market is beyond dispute. It has created a society of unprecedented prosperity.

But we must remember that the marketplace does only one thing—it puts a price on everything.

The role of culture, however, must go beyond economics. It is not focused on the price of things, but on their value. And, above all, culture should tell us what is beyond price, including what does not belong in the marketplace. A culture should also provide some cogent view of the good life beyond mass accumulation. In this respect, our culture is failing us. . . .

If you don't believe me, you should read the statistical studies that are now coming out about American civic participation. Our country is dividing into two distinct behavioral groups. One group spends most of its free time sitting at home as passive consumers of electronic entertainment. Even family communication is breaking down as members increasingly spend their time alone, staring at their individual screens.

The other group also uses and enjoys the new technology, but these individuals balance it with a broader range of activities. They go out—to exercise, play sports, volunteer and do charity work at about three times the level of the first group. By every measure they are vastly more active and socially engaged than the first group.

What is the defining difference between passive and active citizens? Curiously, it isn't income, geography, or even education. It depends on whether or not they read for pleasure and participate in the arts. These cultural activities seem to awaken a heightened sense of individual awareness and social responsibility. . . .

Don't forget what the arts provide.

Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world—equal to but distinct from scientific and conceptual methods. Art addresses us in the fullness of our being—simultaneously speaking to our intellect, emotions, intuition, imagination, memory, and physical senses. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images.

Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions. And it remembers. As Robert Frost once said about poetry, "It is a way of remembering that which it would impoverish us to forget." Art awakens, enlarges, refines, and restores our humanity. You don't outgrow art. The same work can mean something different at each stage of your life. A good book changes as you change. . . .

Excerpted from a commencement address delivered at Stanford University on June 17, 2007. Read the full text here, then head on over to the library and pick out a good book. I'll see you there!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

American Fork's New Landscape Ordinance

Living downtown has made me sensitive to the landscaping and design elements of the business district. It's easy to see a correlation between good design and stable business. Conversely, poor design seems to be a good predictor of blight. Blight usually leads to crime and disinvestment -- the last thing I want for my neighborhood.

This is why I was so greatly pleased when, after two years of deliberation with staff, the City Council enacted a landscaping ordinance last November.

Many thanks are due to Council Member Sherry Kramer, an outspoken advocate for City beautification, who guided the ordinance through its own development and approval process. I joined the cause after visiting with a local landscape architect who opened my eyes to the problems of operating without a landscaping ordinance.

Developers are more than happy to comply with such regulation, he said, showing me the three-inch binder in which he keeps our surrounding cities' landscape ordinances. Developers understand that landscaping adds value to their projects. Some install healthy landscaping without the requirement of law, but most install exactly what the law requires, nothing more, nothing less.

The advantage to having an ordinance on the books, he said, is that developers are given to understand up front what requirements will be asked of them BEFORE they go to the expense of design or the even greater expense of redesign.

Without the ordinance, City process becomes somewhat arbitrary and, I dare say, even capricious, with landscaping approval left up to the subjective judgment of planning commissioners and city council members.

The ordinance now sets forth, in predictable detail, exactly what manner of landscaping will be required. It does so through a mathematical system of ratios, with notes such as this:

Twenty-five percent (25%) of the required shrubs may be converted to turf based on one (1) 5-gallon shrub per fifty (50) square feet of turf.
Or this:

Species diversity: The percent of any one (1) type of tree that can be planted in a development shall be as follows:

a. 0-5 trees: No limitation
b. 6-21 trees: No more than 50% of one (1) species
c. 21 or more trees: No more than 20% of one species
Such requirements ensure that the necessary landscaping will in fact be installed, that it will be attractive and well planned, and that the landscaping will be sustainable in the long term.

The ordinance governs commercial development and large-scale subdivisions. It does NOT apply to single family dwellings or existing development.

During deliberations, the concern was raised that governments ought not to make such requirements of businesses. Each additional requirement adds more cost to business and grants more powers to government.

This is a fair point. It is the kind of argument the council considers very carefully, especially during time of economic recession. In reality, this ordinance imposes no new requirements on developers, and no more than other cities require. This ordinance simply puts into code what was already enforced in practice. Given the requirements up front, developers can easily incorporate them into their planning without fear of being put through costly revisions.

Landscaping standards, I feel, are a necessary and worthy addition to the City code. Landscaping enhances, conserves, and stabilizes property values by:
  • reducing heat and glare,
  • facilitating movement of traffic within parking areas,
  • shading cars and parking surfaces, reducing local and ambient temperatures,
  • buffering potentially incompatible uses from one another, and
  • improving air quality.
These purposes fall squarely within that list of concerns used to justify planning, development, and zoning powers -- namely the health, safety, morals, welfare, convenience, order and prosperity of the City.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Heidi Rodeback 2.0

Welcome to the second edition of my blog. If you are a returning reader, welcome back, and thank you for your patience in my absence. Sometimes a blogger needs a break.

If you are a new reader, welcome! This is the blog in which I chronicle my daring exploits, fabulous feats, and secret ambitions as a second-term City Council member in American Fork.

There are a few ground rules we follow here at the blog. Please do me the kindness to review them before we proceed further:

1. This blog does not represent the official position of American Fork City or of the City Council -- hence the title, "Speaking Personally." Readers will find here my own positions and opinions, but they must go to for official City policy.

2. This blog is biased. I do my best to be fair, impartial, and open-minded. I am always willing to listen to both sides of an issue, and I do my best to represent both sides here at the blog. Nevertheless, a single author always holds a single point of view. Those holding opposing views will always find bias in my accounts. This cannot be helped. Readers are well advised to consult multiple sources of reporting as they weigh the issues.

3. This blog is clean and respectful. I ask this standard both of myself and of those who log in to comment. All comments will be posted, regardless of whether I agree or disagree, so long as they are clean, respectful, and on topic.

4. This blog is confined to matters of American Fork City government. It does not treat school board, county, state or national issues except as they relate directly to the City.

5. I reserve the right to make mistakes. When I catch my mistakes, I will post corrections and apologies as appropriate.

My purposes here at the blog are many. This blog is about accountability. I feel it is important to account for my votes and my time as your representative. It's also about empowerment. I hope by writing to engage more of us in our government, because after all, American Fork is our home. Finally, this blog is personal. If nothing else, it gives me a journal of my experiences as I take my turn in this government by the people.

For the record, my first-term blog has been archived. It can now be found at a new URL, I have also linked to it in my blog roll.

Thank you for reading!