The community ranking site Niche recently named Arlington the best “city” for millennials. Yet despite young peoples’ clear attraction to Arlington, they are often underrepresented in the County’s civic life.
“The common misconception is that millennials don’t care about government,” said Melissa Riggio, a millennial living in the Ballston area. “What, to me, is more accurate, is that we connect to government in different ways than the generation before us, so it can go unseen by those who are unaccustomed to it.” To find out what aspects of the community and local government interest millennials, County staff decided to ask them. This spring, the County partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) to host a “happy hour” with County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol. The goal: determine the areas of civic interest to residents in their twenties and thirties and connect them with convenient ways to engage — online or in-person— with plenty of time commitment options.
More than five dozen young people attended the May 31 meet-and-greet at the BID’s offices, all contributing to an evening of thoughtful and constructive dialogue about trending topics in Arlington – from keeping exotic pets to rising housing costs – plus ways to grow County outreach and create an inclusive engagement model not just for millennials, but for all Arlingtonians.
In an effort to keep that conversation going, the County offers the new Engage Arlington platform for millennials – and everyone else – to share what matters most to them. It’s a quick way to contribute new ideas, comment on the insights of others and vote suggestions up or down on the viability of suggestions. It’s a robust online idea-sharing hub for those issues that are in the news, currently affecting you, or just on your mind. Already millennials are using the page to speak up.