Tuesday night Councilwoman Christine Brown addressed the city during the "council reports" portion of the city council meeting. Here's what she had to say:
*This is a copy of Councilwoman Brown's prepared speech; her words varied slightly in delivery. For a transcript of what she said verbatim, please watch the meeting at MyGulfport.us.*
"Good evening, Thank you for coming to this meeting and participating in your government. I am usually accustomed to walking around and talking and I am comfortable talking to a room full of 17 year olds. Right now I am nervous and you all scare me. Please accept me as your council representative without any preconceived notions and give me a chance to show you who I am, what I believe in and what I have to offer our community. I will respect you and I would hope that you would give me the same. As humans we owe each other that much. I am, by nature, a numbers person. I look, think and live by numbers. I find numbers in every situation. So it would seem fitting to talk to you about our community as I see it by the numbers.
"We are one community of 12,220 people living in 2.76 square miles. Seems like a lot, but not so much when you consider that Hong Kong has more than 570,000 people in the same space that we have 12,000.
"To put that into perspective, if we wipe away all the buildings, each person in our community would have 2200 square feet to call their own, about the half size of a basketball court.
"4% of us are under five years old
"14% are between the ages of 5 – 18.
"25% of us are over 65 years old.
"57% are in-between the ages of 18 – 65.
"We are Hispanic, biracial, native Hawaiian, Asian, American Indian, Alaskan native, black and white.
"47% of our citizens are male.
"53% of our citizens are female.
"84% have lived in Gulfport for more than one year.
"9% of us were born on foreign soil.
"90% of us have our high school diploma, better than the state average.
"30% have a 4 year college degree or greater, also better that the state.
"We have just less than 2,000 brave military veterans in our midst, I am forever thankful for your service to our country and preserving my freedoms.
"Our 12,220 residents reside in 7,500 housing units, 65% of which are single family homes.
"70% of us own our homes, 30% rent.
"Our medium home value is $170,000 whereas our medium income is only $41,000
"14% of us are living below the poverty level.
"We are one community
"In our community,
"We can eat out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert
"We can stop for coffee, tea or whatever shakes your tree.
"We can shop for antiques, accessories, cars, homes, insurance or anything bazaar
"We can listen to music or make music
"We can get our car tuned, boat tuned, piano tuned or mind, body and spirit tuned.
"We can get our news on paper or online
"We can buy a book, read a book, write a book and even get help publishing a book
"We can store our boats and we can store our treasures
"We can care for our elderly, our dearly departed and even give them flowers.
"We can learn to dance, dive, blow glass, and speak Spanish.
"We can graduate from pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school and Law school.
"We can join Toastmasters, a yacht club, The Lions Club or a quilting club
"We can play baseball, soft ball, basketball, volley ball, bocce ball or tennis
"We can go to the park, the playground, the skate park or the beach.
"We have lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, bankers, accountants, plumbers, architects, educators and everything in between
"We have a fresh market and our very own Blueberry patch.
"We can get help planning a festival, go to a festival, take a home tour, a ghost tour, or a culinary tour.
"We can nurture our inner artist by buying art, producing art, or going on an art walk
"We have glass art, canvas art, graphic art, and metal art
"We can go to church, go to a museum or go to the theater
"We can get our nails done, our hair done, or our taxes done
"We can spend the day, spend the evening, or spend the night.
"And if you want to know about what businesses Gulfport has to offer, I hear that there is an app coming soon for that.
"Seriously, why should we ever leave our city? We have everything we need and then some. We truly are a full service, all encompassing, community for a lifetime. And we are so proud to be part of this community.
"We are never short of passion here in Gulfport. We may disagree at times, but the conflicts, large and small, are deeply rooted in passion. One person’s Clam Bayou is another person’s Scout Hall. What some perceive as anger and bitterness is really indescribable frustration, like hitting your head against the wall because that is all you can do, frustration. We believe in our causes so deeply that it consumes our every thought. I ask us all to be mindful of the possibility that each of us may someday experience a Clam Bayou or a Scout Hall type of passion, a passion that shakes you to the core. I know the love we have for our city runs deep. I have seen it and felt it. Alone, we are experienced, educated, vibrant and caring individuals but as one community, together we can transform our passion into action because we are the definition of a true community. I challenge our community to listen with your heart to the passions among us and please let us come together and convert those passions into the energy we need to guide us towards solutions and towards the future. Let the past dissolve behind us. Together, one community, The Gateway to the Gulf."