Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lots to do, how to choose?

The blogs provide a lot of information about civic affairs in St. Louis. There's arts blogs, socializing blogs, redevelopment blogs, just about everything.

Blogs give information about places, people, and things. They offer us an opportunity to dialogue on issues. If you're part of the redevelopment effort of St. Louis, there's plenty of discussion there.

Posting, reading and commenting on blogs is a start. Once you're done with that, what is there to do?


Anonymous said...

A young woman knocked on my door last night, trying to get me to join MOPIRG for $120 per year, or $15 per month.

I told her I was already way more involved than she could ever imagine, and that we couldn't afford to donate to MOPIRG.

With work, school, and home responsibilities, there are too many demands on citizens to deal with all this volunteer stuff.

Government needs to do more.

stlmark said...

1. Organize like minded people.
2. Set an initial goal.
3. Go from there.

That's how we started a community garden. That simple model could be repeated for the urban minded bloggers.

GMichaud said...

I think the discussion is enough. From the ongoing discussion a new leadership will emerge.
Create an open visual studio that concerns itself with urban design and planning issues. If visual ideas are presented to the public it will go beyond the words of the blogs.
The Language of Architecture and the development of the written word turn into something real in life that you walk in, eat in, love in, breathe in and see everywhere you look. (Goethe called architecture "Frozen Music").
The graphic representation of ideas is a stage between words and reality. It is the progression of the written word.

Rick Bonasch said...


Thanks for your post, but I don't think the discussion is enough. People need to do stuff. Lots of what goes on in the blogs is complaining. And it's mostly bloggers talking to each other. That doesn't count for much.

Decision makers don't follow the blogs to make decisions. They work with real people, meeting with them face to face, on important issues demanding their attention.

Consider the Lid/Memorial Drive situation. I did a blog on that. It was mentioned in the Post Dispatch. A few weeks later, the new superintendent of the Arch was interviewed by KMOX, and when it came to discussing improving access, the only option mentioned was the lid.

There were a lot of people testifying on the new Memorial Drive idea at the public meetings. It will be interesting to see how their public input is counted in the NPS first draft report from the planning process.

Today's blog is about the goings on on the near northside. Something is coming, and it's going to be significant. Blog posts or comments won't shift the project plans, but people participating in the process might.

Maybe the blogs will help engage the community, but in the end, it will take the community getting involved to make a difference.

Back to the Lid/Memorial Drive thing, I wonder how much people in general really care about the issue. Same thing for the near north side.

The activist types show up, but the general public, do they care much one way or another?

Becker said...

Spreading the word to like minded people is doing something. But to spread the word you need to move the discussion past the sometimes isolated world of blogging. I'd try to get civic minded members of the media like Charlie Brennan or Tim McKernan (He may be a sports talk show host but they often dedicate whole segments of the show to talking about civic issues.) talking about it.

I also do like the idea of independently creating the visual plans for urban developments and bringing that to the public. Once people can see what could be, they will be more likely to fight for it.

I for one am willing to help.

GMichaud said...

Rick I meant to say that leadership will naturally arise from the blogs and cause action to occur.

The fact that the lid proposal is the only one talked about is because that is how the power structure along with major media does things. The public is ignored if they want their way.

Your blog about the New Memorial Drive was great. It could be a beautiful and humane boulevard.

That idea along with many others should be in open public discussion.

That's why an open planning studio, a nonprofit, would circumvent the laggard power structure by creating plans for St. Louis and the region.

It is art and beyond the consideration of the power structure. The public would become engaged with these graphic explanations of city planning supported by the blogs.

Rick Bonasch said...

Yesterday after work I stopped by a political networking/fundraising event. There were easily fifty people there in elected or appointed leadership positions in the city.

I mentioned the lid idea to a couple of them. One person's response was that it might happen when my "grandkids have gray hair". Another was a little more open to it, thinking it probably made more sense than a grand entertainment, tourism attraction along our basically industrial canal of a riverfront.

Then this morning, it dawned on me. So many key people in one room, had I had the huevos, I would have stood on a chair, asked for everyone's attention, and then made a pitch for the new Memorial Drive idea right there in front of all of them.

That would have either been a Jimmy Stewart style "aha" movie moment, or an incredibly embarassing flop. Probably the latter.

So we go on to live another day.

The tough challenge on the new Memorial Drive idea I'm trying to break through is how to get past the point of nearly everyone saying they think it's a great idea, but in the next breath saying how it will never happen. It's like being almost there, but having your goal keep remaining centimeters out of reach.

GMichaud said...

I understand completely the frustration. It isn't right.
A through discussion of the Memorial Drive question should occur publicly along with a general in depth discussion.'
They use their magical "experts" to justify any decision, no matter how mediocre.
In the end they don't understand art, and they lose.
It will be interesting to watch what occurs. The quality of decisions with clean public discussions is important. (Not the sham public hearings of MoDot or the sculpture park in the Gateway Mall).
Alternative views certainly don't seem to be welcomed. But if new ideas are threats, it has to make you wonder just what is the motivation to ignore innovative urban solutions.
This all goes back the the first leadership failure, an explanation of how any arch project works with an overall city plan. How does it increase the urban health of St. Louis and the nation?
A new Memorial Drive might generate discussion on how it works with the transportation health of the region, of how to create energy savings. (If now is not the time to consider the redesign of transit and the city to become more energy efficient, then when is the time?)

Instead we are lucky to get an honest discussion of the project at hand.
The lack of overall strategies in transportation and city planning, even with war and serious energy questions to consider makes me wonder just what is the government doing?