I guess I am hopelessly optimistic.
This is probably why I am attracted to trouble makers.
On Sunday, November 18 the City led an urban design workshop at the Native Education College (NEC). City planners started with brief presentations that allowed the audience to focus and orient themselves with the relevant information. Joyce, the Mount Pleasant Community planner, showed a set of slides that reviewed the plan approved in 2010. In one of Joyce’s slides there were a few words that caught someone’s attention. Jon, a retired member of the community was emotionally vocal about the misleading nature of the presentation.
It took a while until the presentation continued as planned. Before the audience gathered in three groups for walks in the pre-defined regions, I got hold of Jon to understand in detail his concerns. My understanding of it was that different words were used in previous documents than those currently presented. History shows that such gaps are fertile grounds for misunderstandings and buildup of distrust. The proposed and approved development of the Rize project on Broadway and Kingsway was brought up on Sunday of the workshop as a close and relevant example (1, 2, 3, and more…).
An interesting example that stays in my mind for impressive community engagement is the fight against the proposed expansion of the Edgewater casino (1, 2, 3, and more…). I guess this was an easier battle. The interests here were more clearly defined and divided. But the sprouts of distrust have gained some height nevertheless.
In the development and revitalization of Mount Pleasant – proposals are much more complex, the variety of players is much broader. So whether Jon’s mistrust of the City and developers is justified or not, his pointing to the issue of discrepancies is valuable. My belief is that most, if not all players in this field have good intentions. Land owners, developers? Yes, they want the most profit on their investment. Business owners? Yes, they all want more paying clients. Residents? Yes, we all want to have quality of life.
Yes, developing a city to accommodate all of its tax payers’ needs and interests is challenging. Believing we can reach a balanced solution probably makes me a hopeless optimist. “Trouble Makers” can point to details that are potentially drivers of eventual imbalances in the big picture.
I sometimes wish I was a trouble maker. The trouble is that I’m a maker. Hopelessly and optimistically so.