Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, Charlottesville.

I've been researching the Global Business Network and Scenario Planning. The idea here is to chart out possible future scenarios for the item of interest, in my case Charlottesville. You look at a do-nothing scenario, realistic scenarios if each faction gets its way, and hopefully some scenarios where multiple or even all factions get their way. Something that's bothered me with Charlottesville is that we have no real vision, no great plan for the future that we all understand and believe in. Even among the elites who follow these issues closely. The County has attempted this with the Neighborhood Model, with mixed success, but the Neighborhood Model is really just a jumble of useful tactics. It isn't really a scenario/dream/vision. I see nothing comparable on Charlottesville's end. Folks like Maurice Cox and ACCT support the Streetcar, folks like Mitch van Yahres and Bern Ewert support the Ruckersville Parkway, folks like David Slutzky support Bus Rapid Transit, and folks like Meredith Richards support the Virginia Railway Express. I happen to support land value taxation. Whoopee, these are all tactics. They're meaningless without a greater framework to rest upon. I'd like to see all of the interested groups in Charlottesville get together and chart out some possible scenarios for the region. I'd like to see a pro-development backlash scenario like what we saw in Loudoun, I'd like to see a Smart Growth scenario, I'd like to see a No-Growth scenario, and I'd like to see all the scenarios we aren't even talking and thinking about, like some sort of small farmer agrarian scenario like what Al Weed and Dave Matthews seem to be leaning towards, or a William McDonough-style Eco-Effective scenario, or a Peak Oil scenario, or a positive libertarian vision that doesn't trample our countryside, like what I suspect is in Neil Williamson's head. I'd like to see some real analysis done to see how all these scenarios pan out, who wins, what works, and I'd like for the region to go through the process to find a plan where we all win, and make it happen. I think there is a broad understanding of how special this region is, and what a crucial turning point we are at. We're drowning in good ideas, but without a scenario to throw around, a framework to fit them in, they have no substance, and we'll keep marching along the path of least resistance.

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