Have no fear, your city government is here! This one thing some city governments are doing is changing everything…for the better.
If you’re like me before I started working for local government, you probably don’t give five seconds of thought on any given day to the innumerable ways the city you live in affects your life. Your thoughts are on your family, your job, and the things you enjoy doing.
But trust me, your local government affects all of those areas – does your family produce trash that would be pretty gross if it wasn’t picked up regularly? (If they don’t, tell me how! I want to learn!) Do you drive on a city street at some point during your morning commute to your job? (Again, if you have some sort of teleportation system, you’d be required to tell me…) Do you enjoy barbecuing at your local park or drinking a craft beer at one of Colorado’s many breweries? There’s a large group of municipal employees making sure you can do all of those things by planning, creating, and maintaining this place we all call home.
But here’s the really crazy thing that I’m going to guess you have no idea about: there is a super-secret squad of people working every day to improve these processes you didn’t even know you needed. It’s called Peak Academy and they save us money by teaching Denver employees how to cut out waste in processes like issuing a liquor license, taking calls and addressing potholes, or getting dogs adopted quicker at the Denver Animal Shelter. And it’s not just the bigwigs, this training is open to everyone from frontline staff to the Mayor himself, so everyone has the chance to contribute ideas and streamline processes.
As a resident of Denver, I ‘ve always been proud of the place I live, but my chest puffed up about twelve more times knowing that my city government is committed to innovation in such a lasting and immense way. To date, Peak has helped save taxpayers $12 million dollars. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s money that would still be going down the proverbial drain if Peak Academy didn’t exist.
If that doesn’t get you jazzed up about your local government, I don’t know what will. These people are setting the standard throughout the country in innovation and they’re working FOR YOU. It’s enough to make me want to shout an ode to Peak Academy from the mountain tops, which I guess I just did! Please, consider yourself lucky that you live in a place where the people taking care of essentials you don’t even think about are not only committed to doing it, but improving it so it’s done better than it was before.
With the skills I learned at Peak Academy, I have improved processes by eliminating waste here in Frederick. A specific example is our Community BBQ Tour, a meet-your-board-and-neighbors event that travels around to parks throughout our community each summer. We were wasting precious man hours with the inefficient (and less tasty) option of buying, schlepping, and cooking the food ourselves, which left us elbow-deep in hamburger grease and grill smoke and unable to do what we were supposed to do at these gatherings, which was answer residents’ questions and talk to them about what projects the Town has going on. By working with local caterers to provide and serve higher quality food, we have saved man hours and freed up our staff to interact with the public, while attracting more people to come with the promise of free, delicious food. This event is now considered an incredible success and a staple in how we continue to keep our small-town feel as we grow.
Megan Williams lives in Denver and works for the Town of Frederick, CO. She was introduced to Peak Academy at a session in 2014 that was open to government employees throughout the state. She has a dog named Blue that enjoys the city’s dog parks, a husband named Zach that enjoys playing kickball with her on one of the city’s rec league teams, and is continually amazed by local government’s impact everywhere she looks.