For Father’s Day my bride and my blonde purchased me a subscription to Texas Monthly Magazine. As a lifelong Texan (okay since I was 3) I have always dreamed of the day to get this subscription in the mail. Have I come of age? Maybe that is a topic for another day.
I was sitting poolside, sweating out the dog days of summer, enjoying the August issue, when I ran across Michael Ennis’ article on that huge white arch over there on the west side of Dallas. Have you seen that thing north of I-30 and wonder what it is and why it is there? Read his article and you will get the jest. While I was reading it, I came across the trigger for this blog:
After a year of unprecedented collaborative meetings with city staff, developers, and community groups (usually developers write the plans and everyone else complains later, to little effect), CityDesign rolled out the “West Dallas Urban Structure and Guidelines.”
In reading Mr. Ennis’ embedded opine it made me stop reading the article, put the mag down, and nod. I am glad I was sitting in the shade away from the pool, or someone would have had questions about my stability. It got me to ask, “Does this author have any idea of just how right he is, and how do we change that, or can we?”
In the seven years that I have been active in my community, I have come to an understanding that the percentage of active members of any volunteer or non-profit organization is less than ten percent, and most times much less than that. In contrast, those with an opinion after the work is done are closer to one hundred percent. Unfortunately, those opinions are not usually of the positive nature.
The author says that complaints have little effect, and I greatly agree with his sentiment. Why, you ask? Consider in a household, man and wife work hard all day. They come home; the wife/husband asks the other what they want for dinner? The spouse has no opinion and leaves up to the cook. (S) he designs and labors to create an edible work of art, and puts it before their mate. It is complete; there is not another protein, starch or vegetable to be added. Now, all that is left is to partake of this meal. What if the person who prepared the meal heard, “Wow, you burned this meat, if I would have prepared it, it would have been done cooked right, and with the proper spices?” What does the cook think; “Next time cook it yourself!” The cook can’t change it and doesn’t really care to fix what may or may not be wrong with the meal after receiving such a complaint.
City leaders, group leaders, etc. are much the same. They hear of issues, they ask for input, wait for input, plead for input, and then go to work with the input that was or typically was not given. They design a plan, ask for more input, receive little to none, and then implement the plan.
Now, we as citizens and members belly up to the table and partake of what they provided. I feel there are three (possibly more) types of people that are consuming; those that are truly appreciative of what they are given; those that are okay with it, and those that don’t like it and want to tell someone, anyone, and everyone about it. Which are you?
For the most part, I feel that city and group leaders are open to opinions and help, but we either can’t find the where to get engaged for whatever reason; I fear most would say because they didn’t know where to get engaged, when the truism is that they just didn’t want to get involved until they didn’t care for the outcome.
There is a lot of community and political issues going on right now, from the economy, transportation, public education funding, city redistricting, etc. (I really could go on and on). In fact, if you stop and look at what matters most to you in the world, it isn’t one hundred percent the way you would like to see it. The leaders really would like to hear your opinion, but most importantly they could use your help instead of your negative criticism after they have implemented their plan.
So what are you going to do?
Arch of Triumph – Michael Ennis: http://www.texasmonthly.com/2011-08-01/ennis.php