The League's 111th Convention got under way this afternoon as President Robin Beltramini opened the proceedings. Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell welcomed the delegates and guests reminding them that it is our communties that will lead the way. It helped to remind me of the League's current message that investing in our communities is key to reviving Michigan's economy. Prior to introducing the first session's keynote speaker Ted Staton, current President of the Michigan Local Government Management Association, presented retired city manager Kurt Kimball with the John M. Patriarche award. One of the highest, if not the highest honor that can be given to a city manager in Michigan and Kurt is certainly worthy after having spent a long and successful career with Grand Rapids. Then it was on to the keynote speaker, Ed Everett, a former city manager from California, now a consultant in in civic engagment. He spoke of the public as partners and that local officials need to think of civic engagement and community as both sides of the same coin and that local officials need to learn to let go of control. I thought of the application of web 2.0 technology and its impact on how members of the public communicate differently and how important it is for local officials to understand how to use these tools to communicate their message and get the public involved. Of course its not all on local officials, but the public too, as they must understand their own role and accept responsibility, accountability and stop the blame game. All of which takes time, and while there will be failures, the need to engage the public is too important an element if we are to work toward created more vibrant communities.