Dear Edina: Stanley Wu wants to meet you.
Wu, a 16-year-old sophomore at Edina High School, lives in the city with his father and has spent most of his life there. But he still doesn’t know his neighbors, he wrote in a letter to Edina’s mayor.
And he thinks the city should be more like friendly Savage, where he spends weekends with his mother (his parents are divorced).
“Edina would be a nicer place if we could all talk to each other and not be awkward for not knowing each other,” Wu wrote Mayor James Hovland.
“I encourage the city to change into something amazing by hosting community events … that would bring everybody together.”
Hovland said he remembers getting the letter. He hasn’t replied to it, but said he’d “love to sit and visit” with the teen.
“I’d tell him that we have neighborhood associations that provide active contact among folks in various neighborhoods,” Hovland said. “Neighborhoods have different ideas. Some really enjoy getting together and some are more private.”
In an interview over a hamburger and French fries at the Southdale food court, Wu said that in Savage he introduced himself “to some of the neighborhood kids, and we were friends right away.” In Edina, he said, he’s gone so long without knowing his neighbors that if he were to introduce himself now, “It would just be flat-out weird.”
Wu suggested that Edina needs more community events and festivals that would bring people together with fun, games and food. It would also be good for small businesses, he added.
One idea he really likes: an after-finals event for students, where they could relax.
Edina has encouraged its 45 neighborhoods to create formal neighborhood associations in recent years, but Wu’s neighborhood — Lake Cornelia — isn’t among the handful that have organized, according to the city’s website.
Wu wrote his letter as an assignment for a high school English class. Students could write a letter on any topic they chose, and he said he wanted his to be “fun and have a community feeling.”
He added that his teacher, Matthew Batesky, mailed the letters for the students “because we did not know how to mail anything.” Batesky was unavailable for comment because of school policies on student privacy.
Wu said he’s willing to offer ideas on how Edina could promote togetherness. He added that he didn’t want his comments to be taken in a harsh light.
Hovland said he’s happy for the feedback. “Whether you are 16 or 60, we want to make sure you love living in Edina and are part of the town, and your voice matters,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s an unfriendly city,” Wu said. “I just think we don’t know each other that well.”