Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Destination 2040: Part 1

Lexington's leaders received Tuesday, the final report on the visioning project, Destination 2040, that the Mayor initiated soon after he took office. The result of months of meetings with local citizens and civic interest groups has been distilled down into a document purporting to reveal the broad based view of where Lexington could be in thirty years. I have rarely read anything that has so dripped of sweet, rosy nothings, that I feel the contents resemble horse apples made up to be Calvin's favorite cereal "Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs". Reading the summary page made my teeth hurt.

Two of the phrases at which the project team arrived were:
  • “Great City Life in a Productive Rural Paradise”
  • “Lexington will be one of the world's great mid-sized cities by striking and sustaining a brilliant balance of dynamic urban living and a matchless rural setting.”
Both of these statements are extremely over optimistic as to Lexington's chances of becoming a "world class city". I don't think anyone should have allusions of us being a great mid-sized city and the chance of achieving and maintaining the "brilliant" balance has eluded us for more than half a century.

After laying out the elements of project development and the process of civic engagement, the report gets down to the individual value statements for four aspects of community life. The four aspects and an explanation are:
  • human needs, A place where all people can thrive,
Approaching 2040, we will be a friendly, embracing, and diverse community that values the dignity and worth of all persons. Basic necessities of life such as food, water, and housing will be abundant, accessible, and affordable. People will be known as healthy, hardworking, motivated, and neighborly. Each individual will find ample educational opportunity and be encouraged to thrive in a fulfilling role that is personally rewarding and makes a productive contribution to the well-being and advancement of the community.
Wow, what a utopia. No more murder, hate or thievery. Everything will be at your fingertips and the work that you do will be fun and easy. No city has found a way to do this throughout the extent of recorded history, but in a few decades Lexington will solve all the worlds problems.

Uh, .... no.
  • physical growth, Always in balance,
Approaching 2040, we will be a beautiful, clean, safe, and prosperous community. We will protect and promote the signature rural landscape and associated agricultural industry, continue the momentum to bring about a truly vibrant downtown, and ensure that all urban and suburban neighborhoods flourish. Acknowledging that the future will bring growth in population and needed public facilities, we will use proactive, cooperative regional planning to address change positively while appropriately balancing the community’s needs.
With all the human needs taken care of we will have so much growth that the boundary line between the urban and rural areas will look like a wall. The densities of the subdivisions will be such that multi-storied residences will look out over the productive landscape. The anticipated sustainable farming operations necessary to feed all the residents will change the "signature" landscape so as to make it unrecognizable. The thoroughbred horse industry will be dead in the Central Kentucky area.
  • economic expansion, A fertile field of new opportunity
Approaching 2040, we will be a place of great economic opportunity where unified, progressive community leadership capitalizes upon our heritage as a center of higher education, health care, agri-business, services, and technology. A climate of widespread economic prosperity will be generated through initiatives aimed at entrepreneurial inventiveness; research, development, and expansion into new markets; a competent, motivated, well-paid workforce; support for new and existing business ventures; and strategies to strengthen economic resilience through future change.
Once again, with all human needs taken care of and affordable, the climate of widespread economic prosperity will have to be generated by initiatives, because the need will not be there. New inventions are driven by need, not incentives. The rest of this is feel good garbage.
  • cultural creativity, Exploring artistic expression in all things
Approaching 2040, we will sustain a lively, diverse, exciting cultural scene for residents and visitors alike. Affordable opportunities abound for Lexingtonians to take part in our community's expressive life as students, participants and audience members. Our commitment to celebrating the community through arts and cultural programming, sustained support for artists and arts groups, interest in emerging art forms, and investment in promoting the signature equine brand work together to make our community a noted destination for cultural and arts tourism.
The arts and culture scene has always been supported by a small group of patrons, and I see no change in that. There will always be an arts niche that will struggle to survive and complain about the lack of support. Also , with the decline of the horse industry, there will be no "signature equine " brand to work with.

I don't care for most visioning attempts because I find that they are looking to use words that please the majority of the participants, but cannot be accomplished. The diversity of the people in Lexington is the one thing that keeps a consensus from fully being reached. If we could actually attain all the points stated above, then we would lose our diverse populace and all be goo little "Stepford" residents.

Next time we will get into the "Informing " statements.

1 comment:

Ahavah Gayle said...

Now, now - the horse industry won't disappear. It will just have to switch to producing work horses for sustainable farming instead of useless thoroughbreds.