Boise Mayor Bieter: “Let’s do big things.”
Kindness and generosity of spirit are defining hallmarks of our city — right along with our extraordinary natural setting and our unique, vibrant lifestyle. Boiseans embrace their neighbors, welcome diversity and pull together in times of adversity. We reject the contempt that many today turn to when they disagree with someone, despite daily reminders of how sour and divided our national discourse has become.
However, Boise is not immune to the disturbing symptoms of the national trend. Recently, in the discussion of local issues, we’ve seen more people shouting down opposing viewpoints, using hyperbole and “alternative facts” to inflame division, or as happened two weeks ago at a city council meeting, resorting to physical violence when the civic process doesn’t go their way. And on social media, where distance and anonymity provide cover, contempt for those with different perspectives is even more vitriolic.
Boiseans expect better of one another, as they should. Civility and respect are more than just common courtesy; they are the cornerstones of community. With these values, our bonds will remain strong. Without them, we will lose our connection to one another.
During my State of the City address last month, I called on Boise residents to embrace kindness and wonder as we focus on how our city’s success will shape its future. It’s the same kindness that allowed us to pull together partners to create permanent supportive housing for our most vulnerable residents. It’s the same wonder we all felt at the outpouring of love and support for the refugee families who suffered the worst blow possible with this summer’s terrible stabbings. It’s the same everyday courtesy and gratitude we feel when we let someone into traffic and get that little wave of thanks.
Some are worried that Boise’s growth and success will diminish the things that make this such a great place. I agree that we must be diligent in protecting our community’s most fundamental characteristics. But to me, Boise’s soul does not rest in a set of policies. It rests in how we treat our fellow Boiseans — whether they are your elderly neighbor, a stranger on the street or someone sitting next to you at a city council meeting who disagrees with your perspective.
As I have said many times, serving as mayor of my hometown is the greatest honor of my life. It nearly overwhelms me to see how much Boiseans love their city. If we continue to embrace and openly embody the kindness, civility and respect that has helped build Boise into what it is today, our future will indeed be bright.