I have kind of lost interest in NashvilleNext. When the process first started a couple years ago, I attended several of the meeting and heard experts speak on a wide range of issue involving land use, planning, and mass transit and changing demographics. I have always been somewhat interested in these topics and do think that one of the reasons some cities are much more desirable places to live than other cities is because of wise planning. I found the sessions interesting and thought-provoking. I also took part in the on-line surveys and some of the discussion session. In the work sessions I put my opinions on little post-em notes and I put my allocated little post-em dots on the choices offered.
Recently however, I have felt like this is all one big "dog and pony show" and the results have already been determined and the public participation is just for show. Also, some of the choices come down to something like, "do you like good, or do you like bad?" I feel like we are being led to a pre determiend conclusion.
I was disappointing that there has not been much diversity of opinion at these meetings. This process started about the same time as the craziness about Agenda 21 was at its peak, when the John Birch Society was training Agenda 21 experts to resist any aspect of Agenda 21. People were being warned that there was a major conspiracy afoot to force us to give up our cars and golf courses and suburban lifestyle and all live in small apartments in the city. The Anti-Agenda 21 people were alerting us that you could id advocates of Agenda 21 if they used words like "sustainability," "communities," "affordable housing," and "justice". Everything from green ways to wide shady sidewalks to bike share programs to traffic calming was said to be part of the plot. Surprisingly, none of the anti-agenda 21 people showed up at NashvilleNext. They could have had field day! I guess I am glad they didn't show up but it would have at least presented some diversity of opinion. It would have made the meetings more interesting.
The value for planners of this NashvilleNext process is that after the plan is adopted they can say, this plan was developed by the people of Nashville in a long involved process and it really is the "people's plan," that it represents community consensus and that x number of people attended x number of meetings an x number of people participated on line. I don't know how much this process is going to cost us by the time we are finished. I tried to find that answer on line but couldn't. I think we would be about as well off it we would have let the planning department and their consultants draw up the plan, present it to the planning commission, then the Metro Council, had a public hearing, and then the Council adopt it. I don't think the NashvilleNext process makes the final product any more valid than if we would have followed the legislative process I outlined above and it would have cost a lot less.
While I have lost interest in the process, I still may attend one of the meetings to "see the possible future that Nashvillians picked." If one cares about the future of Nashville and wants to be informed, I think one should attend. I would suggest anyone who is thinking about running for Council attend and learn what is in the plan. Also, I hope that some people will dig deep into the final documents to see what it is we are exactly getting when the final plan is adopted. The process by which this plan was developed should not make members of the Council any less diligent in examining it before they adopt it.
Below is the announcement from Cumberland Region Tomorrow:
NashvilleNext: “Preferred Future” workshops announced. Make plans to attend!
Make plans to attend one of five upcoming NashvilleNext community gatherings in October and November to see the possible future that Nashvillians picked and discuss what’s next for Nashville!
During the meeting, Metro Planning will present a “preferred future”– a direction our city and county could possibly take over the next 25 years. This “preferred future” is based on thousands of comments by and conversations with community members over the past year and a half.
Public input on this “preferred future” will help shape a draft General Plan which will guide Nashville community’s growth, progress, and preservation through 2040.
CRT’s role with NashvilleNext is to engage our ten county region’s leaders in the development of a unified vision and plan for Nashville’s future growth and development. Please take the time to attend and provide your input at one of these important community meetings:
Thursday, October 30th at 5 pm–Rocketown (601 Fourth Avenue South)
Monday, November 3rd at 6pm–Whites Creek High School
Thursday, November 6th at 6pm–Hillwood High School
Monday, November 10th at 6pm–McGavock High School
Thursday, November 20th at 6 pm –Southeast Library Complex (at the Global Mall)
For additional information, visit the NashvilleNext website.