Leading a ‘civic’ life

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Well, look at that.

It’s Mr. Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, on the cover of Minnesota Good Age!

I’m delighted to be featuring the energetic former Minneapolis mayor as our latest Cover Star and personality profile.

At age 60, Rybak fits the age demographic of our magazine (age 50 and older).

But there’s so much more: This month, Rybak’s political memoir — Pothole Confidential: My Life As Mayor of Minneapolis — will be released with a flurry of bookstore events in April and May, plus a book-launch party with musical acts at First Avenue.

This guy — who spent three terms in City Hall — is certainly keeping busy.

Though many of his constituents may assume he retired after he left office (and suffered a heart attack) in early 2014, Rybak’s actually working harder than ever, he said.

Today he’s the executive director of Generation Next, a Minneapolis-based coalition devoted to reducing education achievement gaps in Minneapolis and St. Paul. (He’s also serving as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee — during a presidential election year.)

“People draw this line around political work. Political work to me is one part of a civic life,” he said. “While being mayor was the one big thing I wanted to do, I have always led a civic life, meaning sometimes political, sometimes volunteer, sometimes in public-oriented jobs, but always about Minneapolis.”

Such words sound to me like those of a man who’s gearing up for a 2018 run for governor — never mind the timely release of his book.

But Rybak dismissed that notion in his interview with Good Age, citing his confessional memoir: “Do you think I would have said some of the things I said if I was trying to run for something?”

Regardless of his aspirations, Rybak is a good fit for this issue of Good Age for another reason. April is our annual Volunteering Issue, and Rybak’s Generation Next has an invitation for you if you’re looking for local volunteer work: Gen Next Reads, a new program launched in late 2015, is recruiting adults to take formal tutor training to help kids who are struggling in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools.

Kids not your cup of tea?

What about helping seniors stay in their homes longer? Tidy up a garden, change a light bulb or just provide some much-needed conversation by stepping up to help with Senior Community Services, touted in this issue’s Housing section.

Maybe that’s your idea of “civic life?”