Friday, January 16, 2009

Destination 2040: Part 3

Today let us pick up with the actual actions identified for each of the different aspects; human needs, physical growth, economic expansion and cultural creativity. The elements which comprise each aspect make sense, but I am a bit confused as to how they arrived at their rankings. I must assume that during the civic involvement phase some sort of weighting system was used as only the top four of these community elements has an action proposed.

For Aspect 1, Human Needs, the community elements are:

Safe, Adequate, Affordable Housing
Educational Opportunity
Medical Services / Health Care
Essential Resources
Governmental Services – Citizen Safety & Welfare
Adequate Nutrition
Adequate Treated Water Supply
Spiritual Life of Community / Religious Expression

Just how an Adequate Treated Water Supply was not included in the Essential Resources baffles me, as well as why it rates below the Government Services element. There is no need for feeling safe and secure if you have no nutrition and water, medical services become more necessary without nutrition and/or water, so these elements should be rated higher.

As for the actions to be taken on Safe Housing, the first one starts out “Take action, through ongoing practices and policies,”. To me that says to keep on keeping on. Continuing to use the same policies only reaffirms the status quo, and we can see how well that has been handled. Action two wants to extend, to other areas, a program that, in Lexington, has not been tested fully. Maybe we should walk before we run. Thirdly, the action of adding to the government staff to enforce the rules upon a populace which, as we saw yesterday, will be cooperative, willing and trusting, and only trying to do what is best for the community as a whole (see value statement #1).

Action statements for element two, Educational Opportunity begin with a desire for alternate funding to support a primary public education and progresses to full support of the UK mission and the Fayette County Schools vision plan. These three individual statements do not indicate that there is any actual (or perceived) opposition to any of them and as state mandated/supported entities, these actions are currently being followed both locally and statewide. Frankly, in my opinion, I believe that any post-secondary education should be encouraged and that the costs of such should be kept affordable, but they are hardly an essential human need. It has been said “The poor, you will always have with you…” and they need a basic education, but beyond that a practical experience education will suffice.

Element three, Medical Services/Health Care, has actions such as making a commitment to healthy living and wellness plus affordable basic health care, which are laudable goals. Is this only asking to grow the health care field, which, for Lexington if not nationally, is already one of the fastest growing segments of our services sector? This starts to smack of trying to emulate a Nashville or other major medical center. The action statement to make Lexington a leader in secure electronic medical records makes me nervous and leery of a Big Brother type scenario. Even the OnStar program has its assurances of privacy, but the car thief does not push that little blue button.

One can tell that this is a government directed process when the starting actions for Essential Resources concern the LFUCG’s pre-conceived, coordinated strategic plan and as such are already in place. Mission accomplished anyone? Fresh, locally grown food is available, but the combined readily tillable acreage in Fayette and the surrounding counties could not provide an adequate nor sustaining supply. Given the idea of sustaining the entire community, one single Farmers Market location is not sufficient. As it is, there are multiple sites currently operating in temporary locations and one, central location would pose a transportation/parking nightmare. Come on people, we have better vision than that.

This next Essential Resources action may take a paragraph by itself. Make Lexington a leader in improving air quality by reducing greenhouse gases and employing sustainable choices in housing, transportation, energy, and other community activities. As part of this approach, ensure that LFUCG, LexTran, and other public sector entities continue to invest in energy efficient vehicles. On the face of it, it seems to be about air quality and the use of new technology to bring about that end. Better planning, form-based land uses, TOD (transit oriented development) and mass transit(streetcars, light rail) are all existing, low-tech strategies to be employed which will reach the same results. Larger numbers of energy efficient vehicles will not reduce the greenhouse gases, they will just relocate the sources of those gases. Lower numbers of higher capacity, efficient vehicles will affect the level of said gases significantly. As these transportation and planning efforts are completed the following action about low-income/disabled residents will solve itself.

Lastly for today, an action statement relating to connecting to the digital world. People must remain connected to important basic living systems… Folks, as much as I use the Internet and a computer, and Mrs. Sweeper says that I spend way too much time online and may have an addiction problem, life can go on without the technology that we have all become used to. Life would not be as comfortable as we may like, we would have to re-learn some of the old ways to get by and we may have to start to relate to each other in a more personal way, but life would go on. The technology of the digital world is not an essential resource.

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