Jordan Brown, budget analyst in the Budget Office, takes his daughter to work.
As soon as I became aware that the City of Kansas City, Missouri, is the City of Fountains, I was fascinated with the concept and how cool it sounded. Being the nerd that I am, I started researching the origin of fountains and what they mean.
I found out two things. The first is that the fountain is an international symbol for vitality. The second is that originally fountains were for cities and had a functional purpose—a residential resource for bathing and drinking water, depending on the circumstance. In short, fountains were for the community.
Following my research I knew there could not be a more fitting name for a city. I wanted to work for Kansas City because it exemplified vitality and its local government was for the residents and the provision of what they needed to live a high quality of life.
Fast forward three years to the present, and I am still a believer in the City of Fountains. In my current role as a budget analyst, I now have unique insight into all the moving parts of the City and how they work together. Most specifically, I have insight and understanding of the departments I have been assigned to work with: primarily these are Aviation, City Clerk’s Office, Human Relations, Parks and Recreation, and Water Services. I love my job, but it’s sometimes difficult to describe what I do in an exciting manner. This became particularly important to me because of a recent life-changing event—Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
My approach was to tell my daughter that I help make sure the money paid by people who live, work and visit Kansas City is used in the best way possible so that everyone can enjoy and benefit from all the city fountains she likes. When she asked how I do that, I talked about the Aviation, Parks and Recreation, Water Services, City Clerk, and Human Relations departments together in a narrative.
The story went like this:
Me: The City puts together real-life Lego projects all the time. Let’s pretend we want to make a pretty park at the airport with a fountain.
Daughter: Oh, that sounds very nice. I like city parks and city fountains.
Me: Yes, me too, and this way everyone who comes to KC by plane will see how much we love parks and fountains.
Daughter: That’s good because then they’ll want to visit again.
Me: Exactly. That’s one of the reasons we take so much pride in what we build in Kansas City.
Daughter: Yup, if we’re going to make a permanent Lego project, we should make one that we can be proud of.
Me: Very smart. You’re right, and one of the things we’re most proud of at my job is transparency. In other words, being open and honest about the directions of the Lego project and when we’re going to put it together, not only to the project partners, but the people who get to see the final product.
Daughter: That’s good, but who gets to be a “partner” and who tells all the mommies and daddies about the play date?
Me (laughing out loud): I’m so glad you asked. Of course the Aviation, Parks, and Water Services departments are partners in the project because it’s an airport park and fountains need water. The Human Relations Department makes sure that all kids in the neighborhood get a chance to be represented on the project and that they get their fair share. The Clerk’s Office makes sure everyone knows about the play date schedule and that the information is posted on the community’s online and physical bulletin boards.
Daughter: Wow, you help make sure they have the money for all of those people to have the supplies that they need?
Me: I sure do, and not just for that project, but for other projects happening at the same time, as well as projects in the future.
My kid liked the story, and it helped her understand better what I do every day. In fact, she’ll probably come up with plenty of suggestions later on how I can do an even better job. I’ll be sure to listen and look for ways to improve. But my main hope is that when asked if her dad’s job is important, she’ll answer the same way I do, by saying, “Of course—don’t you believe in the City of Fountains?”