Guided by ideas in Federal Way | Andy Hobbs

It takes leadership to turn ideas into reality.

At their core, ideas are nothing more than tools. To work, an idea depends on the right hands and circumstances.

On that note, the public will benefit financially, thanks to Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest’s penchant for repetition. His oft-repeated mantra of “frugal innovation” draws smiles from city staffers, although not necessarily in jest. They hear about frugal innovation enough to playfully tag the term to anything that relates to financial savings.

Apparently, frugal innovation is now tattooed on the working culture at City Hall. The mayor has cemented a catchphrase, and employees are repeating it too. He gave employees a guidepost, and they are walking toward it.

From revising employee health benefits to forgoing doughnuts at meetings to reducing the cost (by a few thousand dollars) of a city-sponsored mailer, this so-called frugal innovation is saving taxpayers money.

Although frugality is certainly a theme of today’s economic times, the idea of frugal innovation still needed to be hammered home. That’s leadership. Nice work, Mr. Mayor.

The more people hear an idea, the more people will remember it. The more people are tickled by an idea, the more they will talk about it. The more people are moved by an idea, the more likely they will apply it.

That is what you want: an idea that moves people into action. Whether subtle or direct, an idea’s effectiveness is subject to the whims and skills of the leader who stands behind it.

Speaking of ideas worth repeating, let’s look at quality of life.

The Mirror earned a community service award from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for a recent series on raising Federal Way’s quality of life. The term refers to the level of satisfaction residents derive from cultural, social and intellectual opportunities in Federal Way.

The Mirror simply shared a few ideas. For example, one report highlighted a “midnight walking club.” Club founder Jeff Kendig wanted to prove that downtown Federal Way is safer than you think. Mayor Skip Priest even joined one of the midnight walks. It was a laudable attempt to erase any fear caused by a skewed perception of crime.

Another idea from the series was the promotion of “third places,” which refers to a social gathering spot outside of home (“first place”) and work (“second place”). Anything from a church to a coffee shop to a service club project can count as a third place. This concept is a critical component to raising a community’s quality of life. The more Federal Way folks embrace “third places,” the more likely they will stay and play in the city they call home.

The midnight walk and third places help foster pride. They forge bonds between people and their city. The more pride and attachment residents feel toward Federal Way, the harder they’ll work to make it a better place to live. This attitude is reflected in a community’s overall health, both economic and social.

The quest for a higher quality of life should be viewed as a permanent journey that’s free of fear and guided by ideas.



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