One of the challenges for communities today is the engagement of its residents. It’s important to look at since volunteering is down.

The ability to sustain efforts is challenged because it’s not apparent who is going to keep efforts moving forward. The question is then how is this gap going to be filled?

A piece of this discussion is that businesses look at community engagement as a leadership development experience. The ability to gain experiences within the community broadens people’s life experiences, and through that comes personal growth and development. Data has also shown that this leads to better health for the individual and the community as a whole.

When we think of leadership growth and development, we need to think more broadly in terms of leadership in all facets of our lives, from our work life, home life, spiritual life and community life.

They are connected, so when we think about leadership we need to integrate our thinking and our leadership growth across all of these aspects of our lives. We grow from each of them and all benefit from that growth.

So the message is to get involved and make a difference in every aspect of your life. You will experience your own growth and development and that will be exciting and your health will benefit from that engagement.


I’ve heard a refrain from time to time that seems to be a mantra when people are trying to influence situations. We hear, let’s get rid of those good ol’ boys or let’s toss out the “old guard.”

Chaska has been very strong and healthy over its history and continues to be strong. You don’t become the eighth best city of its size in the U.S. without a lot of good things in place, but every organization can always improve.

However, the key isn’t in tossing out the good ol’ boys, rather it lies with embracing its history and learning from it, while thinking and planning for the future. This work is guided by a clear vision and foundational values and beliefs. This is what will effectively address challenges.

That’s where the emphasis needs to be placed, that’s what defines leadership.

I believe our history as a community has seen example after example of people who have served because they cared and wanted to help their town be an even better place to live and raise a family.

That is the key reason a city prospers. Many good things have been accomplished by those good ol’ boys, whoever they may be.


Florence Olson passed away recently, and with her passing we lost a pioneer in our community. A pioneer that stepped out into the public arena and stood up for what she believed in. She loved Chaska and backed up her beliefs with actions.

Florence first stepped out because of her passion to preserve and enhance the environment. She was the driving force in creating our communities and the county’s first recycling center. She deemed herself the Garbage Lady because of her commitment to the environment before it was accepted more broadly.

She also was a member of and an advocate for the League of Women Voters of Eastern Carver County and, along with other strong members, stood up and tackled important issues that needed the community’s time and attention. Florence then ran for the City Council and served two full terms, which is where I gained a strong appreciation for her commitment to our community.

Florence was thoughtful and cared about every person. She was a high-character voice, authentic and real, genuine and sincere, and she was respectful and respected. She cared about her city and represented it well. She fostered a council culture to respect every person in every interaction. There was no question and no exception.

Chaska benefited from Florence’s commitment and service. We are a better community, we are a better place for everyone, because of her service.

Florence provided broad servant’s shoulders, that modeled the way for others in a special, caring, community first, way. She was a community servant and we will miss her.

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor.


Staff Reporter

Alex Chhith is a staff reporter at the Chaska Herald. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dogs (Cody and Sam), catching up on the Game of Thrones and finding new restaurants. Follow her on Twitter @AlexChhith.


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