Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lexington's Image, Revitalize It Or Not?

Rebecca Ryan, a Madison Wis. consultant, came to town recently and gave her opinion of what we need to do to jump start Lexington's race into the future. That make about 28,000 and one. I figure that just about everybody has an opinion of what to do in Lexington and can find 100 or so others to go along with him. We also know that consultants have credibility that is inversely proportionate to the distance that they had to travel to do the study. Let us look at some of what she said.

I don't see anything on the CommerceLexington website so I'll have to go by the Herald-Leader story.

Ms. Ryan first gives us what we already know, that God has blessed Lexington with some of the best natural beauty available. The educated work force and the population diversity are of more a product of our own selection. Just about everywhere that people settle has some sort of natural beauty that the residents desire to be around, so this is a very generic platitude to start out with.

I believe that all Lexingtonians feel that we don't NEED a mountain, more sunshine, or a couple of lakes to be "world class", but then I don't think that Madison is on any list of world class cities either. World class, in her opinion, has more to do with how the residents attitudes are than with the considerations of the world opinion at large. To "be" world class, to most people, is to measure up to the standards of other cities around the world, to be mentioned in the same breath and sentence with other cities. Ones attitude of being a runner may be good, but means nothing until he competes with the best of the rest of the world.

While here, Ms. Ryan met with business and education leaders, entrepreneurs and young professionals AND did some cycling, walking and driving around. Well, I would expect so. Her analysis resulted in recommending the we create more "stroll districts" like pedestrian-friendly Chevy Chase. News Flash, there are some of us who have been saying that for several years, yet even the former councilperson from that district admits that the patrons of the area don't want to park and walk more the a half of a block to the stores. Granted it is pedestrian friendly, but the people don't want to walk? Making places more walkable also meas bringing the nodes of congregation closer together be they shopping, recreation or other and then giving reasons for people to go there.

Constructing buildings on "a human scale" does not only mean eschewing the development of high rises, but creating places of meeting at "human" distances from each other. High rises have their place and that is usually in the center of the largest concentration of development. As for the one-way street conversions, are we not already moving in that direction?

Ms. Ryan also is said to believe that Lexington is "wrestling with an inferiority complex", but folks I know think that we are actually having a superiority complex. There are those who feel that we don't do certain things because "we are better than that" or "we are beyond that kind of thinking". I hate to tell her, but trash talking goes on in all kinds of games and it is the ones who can back it up that end up winners. In Lexington, talking like you have game is better than worrying about if you have game. Those who really do have game actually will leave those "naysayers" behind. I see a majority of those "naysayers" as being a newer crowd trying to get "those who have game"(the ones that can get things done) to play a different style. We see how that worked out for Billy G, don't we?

Lastly, her comments on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games ring of someone with 20/20 hindsight. Or is she giving her reaffirmation of the work that is already in progress, those things that are causing the most controversy these days? Telling the common folk that they are the beneficiaries of the preparations for the WEG means little if there is not a dollar sign attached to it. The WEG will come and go and the little man on the street will see relatively small change in his pocket. The greater the anticipation, the smaller the change.

Her last two admonitions, in my opinion, should both be heeded. The current leadership(those who talk and do the good game) should take the time to teach as they play the game. And those who are coming up(the trash talkers who haven't been able to back it up) should bring their talent and spend some time in the classroom.

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