I did not stay for the small group work exercises. Now that I am attending these events by choice and not part of a consulting position, I can determine a) if I attend and b) how long I stay--just as any other community member can choose. That's a luxury I appreciate these days. I certainly applaud the 40 plus hours the citizens' task force has already put into this project with almost as many hours ahead on their "to do" list. Having worked for five years with the Grant Road Improvement Plan's Task Force, I continue to be impressed by the willingness of some community members to engage, learn and decide what to recommend for Tucson's future. So mostly, this post reflection is a "shout out" to the important roles Task Force members play--and to the other 200+ folks who also attended last night's working session.
In spite of "the travails of Tucson" (hmm, is that similar to the "Perils of Pauline"--that old silent film picture which I have only seen in retrospective clips), the pluck of the public to hang in there with policy-making strongly suggests that our local democratic functions are not dead. But they are becoming increasingly frayed by polarized thinking and the lack, in my opinion, of government/convenors to be willing to budget, thus, design, the necessary quality of public process necessary to "work through and deliberate" on, in this case, nine different alternatives for a contentious corridor plan. It can't be done well in an hour.
I don't know how this story will end; heck, I don't know how the Grant Road story will end I worked on it from 2006-2012. But I will continue to find a way to balance public involvement with personal detachment and honor those who can do more while I may do a bit less but with renewed passion for what I choose to do. That's why, for me, the upcoming community conversations on happiness will probe answers to my question: are we in Tucson ready to become a happier and more prosperous community?
Stay tuned for reflections on the answers to that question.
And here's the link to the ongoing Broadway Blvd. planning process.