Thursday, September 15, 2005

Urban Summit

Some people have been talking about the idea of holding an "urban summit" dedicated to the future of St. Louis. There are lots of possibilities for a project like that.

It's definitely something that would require a long-range effort in order to accomplish any lasting results. I wonder if anyone would be willing to get involved?


Anonymous said...

Yet more meetings to attend and spread the choir thin.

Why not tap into existing resources like SLACO's annual nabe conference, the brownfields marketplace and many others?

PonyMommy said...

A lot of people have been talking about the idea of holding an "urban summit" dedicated to the future of St. Louis.

Heard it here first. Could you be more specific about who is talking about it?

Rick Bonasch said...

Maybe I should have said "some". Some people have been talking about an urban summit.

One of them is a recent college graduate, interning at one of the area's redevelopment organizations; another is the owner and creator of a website focused on city issues (not me); and, they've both approached me about it.

Actually, that does raise an important question...if something like this were initiated, who should lead it?

PonyMommy said...

A college grad intern, an unnamed website creator (you didn't say blog, so we can rule out discussion by maybe 1-10 additional people on that site), now you, now me and one other person posting on your blog have been talking about an Urban Summit.

More people have been talking about the City's devastating rise in rabbit population.

I still have no idea what you are talking about. Urban Summit to discuss the future of what? Poverty? The Arts? Public Transit? Public Safety? Public Education? Development? Race Relations? What are the intern and website creator proposing? What would be the focus?

Rick Bonasch said...

Some of the topics mentioned include historic preservation, urban design, community engagement, the future of metro east urban communities, and positioning St. Louis as the top mid-sized city in the US.

Also, in terms of perspectve, extending the horizon for implementation over a longer term, say out to the year 2025 or even 2050. (More along the lines of the Japanese view of long range planning than the 5-10 year American view.)

PonyMommy said...

Thanks. Sounds like a waste of time and money better spent on neighborhood volunteer action and involvement in the local political process. You can sit around and listen to experts with an agenda, talk and talk and talk, produce a report, hand out fees to meeting planners and experts, or you can go out and actually do something that makes a positive difference in your community.

The bigger the scope of the meeting and the more removed from the neighborhood/ward level, residents and their elected officials, the more unproductive the meeting. The recent charter reform boondoggle is a good example.

Community engagement that isn't on the neighborhood association level is an oxymoron.

We elect a mayor to set an agenda and others to check his authority. Work with what you have. Don't like the outcome. Elect others and/or change things by initiative process.

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't take an initiative process or a relection to have an open discussion about the future of the city.

Long range planning survives the political careers of elected officials.

PonyMommy said...

I guess it's not clear to me what this is all about.

Local government is responsible for planning and executing plans. Would this be a City sponsored summit? If not, who would be the sponsor(s)?

Anonymous said...

If you were going to have a "bike summit", you'd invite people interested in bikes, and the sponsors would be bike enthusiasts.

If you were going to have an urban summit, you'd invite people interested in urban things, and the sponsors would be pro-urban groups or individuals.

They might be developers, neighborhood organizations, elected officials, representatives of government, architects, real estate agents, historic preservationists, environmentalists, educators, writers, lots of people.

PonyMommy said...

OK. Now we're getting somewhere. It's not a government sponsored planning process. It's a privately organized and funded meeting or meetings.

Are there pro-urban and anti-urban groups in the city? If so, could someone provide examples, three pro-urban and three anti-urban groups? I was under the impression that every city group was pro-urban. Maybe I don't understand the definition of pro-urban. Could someone provide a definition?

What kind of pro-urban groups do you envision as potential sponsors of the summit?

Anonymous said...

Dividing people into pro and anti urban groups would probably not be very productive.

Developing a local consensus around urban issues might be worth pursuing.

Michael Allen said...

These types of meetings have sprung up every so often, with little impact. I was involved in a "First Annual St. Louis Neighborhoods Summit" in 2001 that gathered all sorts of informed and cutting-edge-type folks from academia, planning, development and the arts. There was no second summit, and few who attended that summit are even still in town. That's because there was no consensus on action, and thus no reason on following up. Everyone basically agreed on principles and theories, but had nothing to make with that agreement.

I would only be interested in planning a series of ward or neighborhood summits. Anything citywide may collapse under its own weight or be a distraction from work. A citywide meeting springing from local meetings would be appealing, but not as a starting point.