Brown said the city organized two drop-off recycling events a year and would also offer curbside pick-up of large items if residents coordinated it.
“That allowed residents to get rid of tires and appliances–anything that was hard to get rid of,” she said.
Soon, though, Brown worked on making it even easier. She made the drop-off events monthly, and shortened them to one day. She also worked with recycling haulers in Blaine to allow Spring Lake Park residents to bring two free items every month.
“We figured we need to give back to the residents,” said Brown. “They pay for this service on their utility bill.”
She also said the idea of attracting people to drive their unwanted items to Blaine to get rid of them was attractive to other communities as well.
“We have a hard time getting people to recycle because we are small,” she said. “We have to be innovative.”
It’s those type of changes that Brown feels have shaped the way people in her community think about making smart choices when it comes to getting rid of things they don’t want or need anymore. That also means she has to keep up with information about what people are discarding, where it goes, and how to best get it there.
“You need to be able to give people an answer,” she said. “Just saying ‘Because you can’t’ doesn’t work. You have to be able to at least provide them an example, and I think that helps people understand more the things we do.”
But Brown, who went to full-time in 1997, does more than just coordinate recycling efforts. She is also the director for all of the city meetings that are broadcast and streamed live on North Metro TV.
“I just sit back there (in the city’s control room behind the council chambers dais) and make sure we can get that out to the people properly,” Brown said. She appreciates that it gives her a front seat to what’s going on with the city.
“Sometimes, people have questions,” she said with a laugh. “Sometimes I don’t have to answer them, but I could answer them!”
All of this falls under the umbrella of public service for Brown, who studied political science and women’s studies in college before taking an internship in Blue Earth County with the fledgling recycling program there nearly 30 years ago.
“It’s nice to be a part of government. It’s nice to be able to give back without having to make the big decisions,” she said again with her trademark–and contagious–laughter.
“It wasn’t where I planned to be, but I don’t think I’d trade it for anything right now.”