Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ProgressLex Is Supportable

I follow the folks over at ProgressLex not only because I want to see what they are up to, I also want them to help bring about change. I am sure that a majority of them feel that I am just another impediment on their path to a glorious future for Lexington, but their methods could be interpreted as “riding roughshod” over others like they feel that they have been for years. I comment on their site, not to antagonize them but to get them to think a bit differently about what they may be doing. Some of them wish that I would supply them with answers and directions but that would just be me giving them a box to think outside of. And, believe it or not, I do agree with their stated beliefs and mission statement.
Our Beliefs

ProgressLex’s mission is to create and sustain a thriving, diverse and beautiful Lexington that serves all citizens. Specifically, we will foster meaningful citizen participation, improve government transparency and support visionary citywide leadership toward the following ends:

* encouraging downtown design excellence
* promoting smart and sustainable economic development
* advocating for social justice
* pursuing environmental justice
* broadening support for arts & entertainment
I want a sustainable, diverse and beautiful Lexington that serves all its residents, not just the ones downtown, but all its residents. Even the ones living in the suburbs, they deserve a beautiful surrounding too. I want a true visionary in the lead for Lexington, not a politician who figures out which way the wind blows and set his sail. I want one who will chart a real progressive path.

I also believe that their specifics on their efforts are a bit too limited. Why not encourage good design for all of Fayette County? Why limit it to downtown? Why can’t the same excellent design that we want for downtown work in the new developments closer to the fringe? Is the typical suburban sprawl a smart and sustainable method of economic development?

This nation and this city have come so close to a real economic collapse in the past few years and, to some, we are not out of the woods yet. Should this be a lull in the storm and we again begin to fall, will the current suburban development model, with its lack of connectivity or alternate transportation modes, be able to survive? Will those who bought in to that lifestyle be able to get by on falling real estate prices and rising fuel fees?

The advocating for social justice and pursuing the environmental justice are very nebulous phrases and can be stretched or confined in many ways, while support for arts and entertainment should come from those who want and are able to support those kinds of things.
For Lexington to reach its full potential, we believe it needs:

* Urban design practices based on principles of sustainability, usability and aesthetics;
* Sustainable and innovative economic development strategies;
* Residents who are treated equally and compassionately regardless of gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status;
* Green spaces that are respected and that preserve the region’s biodiversity and geographic beauty; and,
* A local arts and entertainment scene that is valued and citizens who appreciate how vital they are to the city’s culture and long-term economic well-being.
In order to achieve these items completely we may have to dismantle our free enterprise system and remove all profit motives. The free market system relies on taking advantage of somebody in order to get ahead, remove the incentives and progress slows dramatically.
Further, we believe the keys to achieving these depend upon:

* Our ability to work together as informed, engaged and empowered individuals for the common good;
* Establishing ProgressLex as a 21st-century grassroots organization capable of uniting many voices; and,
* Engaging citizens and working with local leaders to make government more transparent and responsive to community needs.
I have found many of the writers for ProgressLex to well informed of a wide range of topics and yet somewhat lacking on the details for their “cause de jour”. I have been accused of not being helpful while causing some of them to pause and rethink. They certainly engaged and definitely asking to be well more empowered than they presently are. I really do believe that ProgressLex WILL become a viable grassroots organization and WILL work well with our local leaders in making them more responsive.

Unfortunately, there are still a great many of our suburban residents out there who embody the sentiments of a recent Twitter entry of a ProgressLex’er,
“As a native suburban Lex'er, I never once gave one thought to downtown's design & appearance. I never even CAME downtown - except for Rupp…” Eric Patrick Marr
These grassroots residents are the ones that need to be reached.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Streetsweeper -

As a board member of ProgressLex, but speaking solely for myself, I welcome your comments and participation on the issues we bring up. I read your blog long before ProgressLex existed, and appreciate the comments you bring to the debate. In the end, I believe it is not unanimous agreement that anyone (including ProgressLex) seeks, but rather the ability to create a focal point that people who love Lexington can use in order to bring about change in our city. We may not always agree on the exact methods or policies, but I hope that we can work together in order to achieve the same goals we all hope to achieve.