Since January journalists David Plazas and George Walker IV have examined how pro-growth policies have prepared Nashville for prosperity, but it has been paired with growing inequality in their “Costs of Growth and Change in Nashville” series.
The ninth annual POWER OF TEN Regional Summit takes place next week, convening hundreds of elected officials, community development professionals and engaged citizens from across the 10-county area.
Last year, our growth trends were the topic of conversation as everybody awakened to the fact that we were by far surpassing goals and projections in almost every metric — population, job counts, industry relocations, new construction and traffic.
Today, sustainability is a bigger concern, one we feel acutely as our local governments struggle to accommodate growth without killing off the aspects of the the “good life” that keep us here and attract others: green vistas; affordability; good educational opportunities; jobs and access to big-city culture and entertainment while enjoying a friendly, small-town environment.
We know we have a lot to lose, yet we also know that fighting just to preserve what we have now would be like treading water to stay put in a fast moving current: You could hold on for a while, but eventually the force will take you downstream. A wise person once told me we shouldn’t strive to preserve our valued aspects in life; instead we must work to enhance or to amplify them, or we risk falling short as the rest of world progresses.
While some view The POWER OF TEN as a major networking event, this conference provides a platform for creating shared goals and action across the region.
A contingent of mayors will share what they’re focused on and what they and others have done together to address some of the commonly held concerns. We’ll hear how the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC) and Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) have integrated their organizations to create a stronger regional planning organization.
Keynote speakers Joe Szabo, executive director of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Mitch Silver, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, can share valuable insights, such as how to address both rural and metropolitan concerns in a regional plan or how to strategically manage green space for added economic value.
Our communities have become more planning-oriented. Visioning exercises are now common: Hendersonville Horizons or Envision Franklin are just two examples. The Regional Transportation Authority adopted nMotion, a 25-year plan for improving alternative forms of transportation across the region. Metro Davidson now seemingly has a plan for most aspects of civic life: Livable Nashville, a plan for a green and sustainable city; Plan to Play, a master plan for parks; and the WalknBike, a master plan for sidewalks and bikeways.
It’s vitally important to explore new opportunities, which help create strong plans that support key values and align with a forecasted and desired future. Yet the plans do no good unless they are supported with clear policies and feasible funding approaches. Creating that support takes discussion, collaboration, and priority goal setting among private citizens and public officials. They are essential parts of good community development, for any community and certainly for our region.
The POWER OF TEN helps facilitate those discussions and collaboration, introducing ideas and conversation around the topics of transportation, sustainable development and collaborative goal setting that can benefit both urban and rural communities. For more information and registration on this Aug 23 event, go to www.10power.org/about-crt.
Carol Hudler is CEO of Cumberland Region Tomorrow.
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