Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Meetings

NOLA bloggers, in addition to preparing for the Rising Tide Conference, got to deal with the city-planning funhouse that were the Unified New Orleans Plan meetings this weekend. Have you ever been involved in an event where you were earnestly trying to participate in doing something good for the community, and then came to the stunning realization that the folks in charge of said event had no idea what they were doing?

Dangerblond directed my traffic to the following links.

Long and short of it is, the UNOP meetings were a disaster; a time wasting event to give the appearance of public input on the matter of rebuilding a vital American city. Think New Orleans has the roundup, and had this to say about his experience at the meeting(s):
Toward the end, there was a lot of reference to the “democratic process” in which we were participating.

Odd that this “democratic process” requires and email address in order to participate. You also have to attend two poorly announced meetings. On scheduled at the last minute, one scheduled in conflict with the Night Out Against Crime. In recent decades, democracy has tended to be a little more inclusive that this.

Next, we pan over to Schroder, who adds the Latin “res ipsa loquitur” to the NOLA lexicon. The thing speaks for itself:
You're a planner, and you want to hold a citywide meeting. Would you open the calendar to make sure you didn't schedule the meeting on the same night as, say, perhaps the most widely-attended neighborhood gathering in the country -- the National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, August 1st?

I hate the fact that planning commissions and organizations that are supposed to get things moving will intentionally schedule their input meetings in the ‘middle of the night’ or against other events. Reminds me of all the stuff universities do during the summer so less students are around to get mad. But even if you do end up attending, the powers that be may not be listening:
And what was the UNOP meeting supposed to accomplish? Well ... I suppose that depends on who you represent and what your goals are. Are you interested in propping up a process that most residents think is intentionally confusing and undemocratic? Or are you one of "those people," who think that power originates in the people, and that their ideas should be honored?

(Oh yeah, and if you want to see the visual representation of how well the bureaucracy has handled the rebuilding of a Great American City, Click here for the diagram.)

Such behavior by the children-in-charge starts inciting thoughts of rebellion in the minds of the adults:
one of my colleagues turned to me and said, "Let's start a coup." We couldn't do a worse job than the people who run this city and we're intentionally instead of unintentionally funny.

But the new New Orleans has already started a revolution, one that will be on display during the Rising Tide Conference later this month, so they wrap up the UNOP fiasco with an essay and some home cookin':
Becky Houtman has written a well-researched and insightful essay on the history of New Orleans planning since Katrina. Please read it, applaud her effort and leave comments, tips and questions at her blog. For her yeoman service, she has won my essay contest and will be awarded a platter of home-baked brownies in a ceremony for which, in the spirit of the current state of city planning, the time and place are still to be determined.


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