If you’re lucky enough to live in a community that isn’t in total decline, like say, parts of Michigan, you have some hope of looking into a crystal ball and foreseeing what current debates and decisions could look like down the line. Others have no such hope.
When I visited western Michigan a couple of years ago, I saw something maybe some of you are familiar with, but was new to me. I visited Benton Harbor, which from what I understand was quite a booming place when the auto industry was in its heyday. Now it’s a lot of boarded up homes and businesses, truly a depressing place to look at. Right across the river sits St. Joseph, which is appearing to reinvent itself as a tourist destination and there is hope in that town.
I grew up in the West, where the above process was rare. Usually land went from untouched, almost unwanted afterthoughts, to planned communities and it all usually progressed in one direction – positively. What I saw in the Midwest and east (not in all cases obviously) was cities progressing towards ghost towns. Little hope.
Planning and growth, while not easy and always a challenge, sure beats the alternative. Kind of like people who complain about their birthdays every year, could always be dead.
Longmont is at a crossroads, and people in and out of local government are on the front lines of how it’s going to be. While haphazard growth has the possibility of bringing on decline through stretching things too thin, going in the direction of anti-growth and pulling back within while surrounding communities are on the move has a much higher probability of bringing on the same decline. To the extent of those places I talked about before? Probably, and hopefully not.
When you decide as a citizen who you’re going to listen to and side with, or when you decide as an elected official which way you’re going to try to steer the city’s policy, you need to consider some things.
First, who is making the case for self-serving reasons?
Second, who is making the case for less selfish reasons and is considering the next generation, or the ones after that?
Third, who’s just stirring the pot with no “horse in the race”?
How do you spot who’s who on that list above? While not a true litmus test, here are some signs: Who are residents of Longmont (or Firestone, in this recent case) and who aren’t? Of those who aren’t, why are they involved, are they just meddling?
Who has a stake financially in how things progress, or don’t?
Who has a stake in the future, perhaps with family and long-term plans to not only stay in this area, but to try to improve it?
Who are the agents of the past? Their time gone by, but instead of relaxing and letting the next generation take the reigns, must instead be as cranky as a constipated 90 year old and as rude as a typical 14 year old ( got one of each in my family, well, not constipated as far as I know). And age really has nothing to do with it, as you all probably know of a 70 year old with a mind of someone half that age, or a twenty-something’r who is wise beyond his/her years.
The disease of shortsightedness does not discriminate based on age, income level, education, home size, or hair length (or lack thereof).
I’m asking for our city leaders to lead, and chose wisely where you’re being lead. Will you lead us into a future with hope and promise? Or into a future you’d be less proud to be responsible for? Yeah, I know, it’s that pesky ” legacy” thing again. You didn’t think you were elected for your good looks, or your ability to pontificate on petty nonsense, did you?
And speaking of leading, like the man says, do it or get out of the way.