in Politics and Plans, Urban Change

Bodacious, Blueberry Wine and Bushwacker

I found this on what the 2030 report was supposed to create. I noticed a comment I made regarding the process that they picked up.  If they were serious they would disclose the process used to accomplish one of their basic goals. Goal: Get a park/recreation facility within walking distance of everyone, say 880 yards.

Challenge:  Identify those locations that do not meet this criterion, implement a strategy to accomplish the goal of walkable access, and then talk about how it was accomplished in a broad 2030 forum with examples and what still needs to be done. Sure, tell people what they don’t have and then fail to produce.

Running from the Bulls or Riding One – same thing.

The PlaNYC link initially went to civic engagement sight.
It now points to the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilience
Anticipating PlaNYC.gov Same thing.

Real and imagined unknowns are part of our embedded information society. Despite the call for transparency and a more open society, government officials, business leaders, and human rights advocates share the mantra of the bull rider that says, “don’t get killed the moment the gate opens.” The preference for advanced knowledge for planning includes knowing that the bull will throw you off regardless. How and why New York City keeps its planning secrets is the stuff of its greatness. Or is it?

There are many ways to look at the advancement of an idea; you can bring in advisors, experts, and consultants to test the bull for weaknesses.  It is the most predictable moves that might suggest counterbalances.  A good example involves the advisory council members the Mayor’s office used for the 2030 PlaNYC.gov project.  A large group, but they were asked to hear it first, keep it quiet, and prepare their respective constituencies with ideas about radically changing the city to solve problems, meet needs, or produce higher confidence levels. These advisors entered New York’s version of a time honored practice known as the run from the bulls. What we all know, it occurs knowing or unknowingly. 

All of the advocates for community planning, housing or environmental activism, business or labor, have their own bull to ride. They also have some foreknowledge about successful placement within the arena. They can be part of the crowd or on a balcony above the fray. This is an OK part of participation. It is the burden of either leading or getting out of the way. The observation to make is that it is not always clear, which is which. The decision to ride resembles the three most famous bulls in the world. They threw every single rider who attempted to last eight seconds presented metaphorically as follows:

  1. Bodacious – Climate Change
  2. Blueberry Wine – Sustainability
  3. Bushwacker –  Resilience 

Whether the 2030 Plan got called the Olympic plan in a green dress, or the World’s Greatest Bull ride, or the NYC version of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, every resident should be encouraged if one single truth is made clear from the onset — take the increments proposed for change and raise them by accomplishing one thing.  The truth seems far too elusive these days for short term use.  It seems riskier than ever for decision-makers who use the truth and make a change. On the other hand, raw data gathered for use by anyone can expose a truth in which all can share. I offer an example as follows:

One person, who is without a doubt brilliant in the Bushwacker Class gave us a map. As buildings are the single greatest producers of GHGs, and the goal in the world (for now) is to get to net-zero I want you to study the Emissions Map by the aforementioned brilliant person Jill Hubley. I can find myself on this map, and someday I might be able to add my emissions data, and in trade to this data, I will be advised on what I can do that I can afford to do for me and the next owner of my home, my city, and world.

View Data

Face it, all ideas begin the secret of a few before they are shared. This is the essence of all ideas. When they emerge in a public forum such as the 2030 Plan they arrive in a city that will argue its merits on a central principle expressed by this question.  “Will this help make a better life for all our residents regardless of household income?”  Is this the truth? In the work it takes to make it so, a great city like New York becomes one of beauty as well as greatness. 

New ideas must meet this first test of actionable power. It is important to know whether actions to remove dangerous foods and air from our lives or to bring all New Yorkers and the region into a synchronous transportation model are doable.  Try this last thought out for a second.   All of us have experienced the shocking realization that the cost of running the MTA is a financial responsibility that travels well beyond that paid by its riders.  But, how on the good green earth can does removing the burden that sits substantially on riders alone become a probable outcome?  It seems consensus cannot occur or even be considered without crisis.

We cannot pretend that the burden of financing NYC’s glory in the American sense or its survival in a global sense is the exclusive responsibility of the Mayor, his team, or our political representatives. It is every Jack One of us. The simple uncomplicated truth may therefore have nothing to do with the facts.  It is our absolute responsibility to protect vulnerable families in a vulnerable city because that protection is needed for everyone regardless of wealth.

How long will the simple measures of our accountability continue to be dismissed as a truism? The real proof of our work and our time in the making and re-making of this city is to have a measure to value the change.  If this measure is not “people” what could it possibly be? The hard questions about this responsibility are like secrets. The real test is upon us all to start talking about Bodacious, Blueberry Wine, and Bushwacker.

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