Alt.Visioning conference promises better focus on Columbia's core values

COLUMBIA, 8/26/12 (Beat Byte) -- For years, City Hall watchers have expressed skepticism over visioning and other city staff-and-consultant driven planning exercises that yield little more than high-minded talk and reports that gather dust on shelves.

Despite its leaders good intentions for instance, some wags have labeled a 2010 city-sponsored "downtown planning charrette" little more than a charade: the student housing onslaught has demolished virtually every plan charrette participants envisioned.
To re-focus community planning toward core Columbia values by putting the process directly into the hands of citizens, a half dozen local groups are sponsoring A People’s Visioning’ Mini-Conference tomorrow night, August 27, at 7:00 p.m. in the Friends Room of the Daniel Boone Regional Library. Music and Refreshments 6:30 PM.

Led by the Columbia Climate Change Coalition, the groups want to refocus the great CoMo jobs push toward small, homegrown businesses and entrepreneurs looking to grow from within rather than larger, out-of-state firms demanding tax incentives, blight decrees, TIFs, CIDs, TDDs, and EEZs.

The groups want to foster "collaboration in our educational community" for "job-specific training and mentoring in fields our community needs."
Those fields represent values residents will recognize as essential Columbia:  renewable energy; energy-efficiency and conservation; neighborhood improvement; growing local food; sustainable clean water; incubating small business startups through high schools, community colleges and the university; improving and maintaining historic buildings; maintaining public infrastructure; and remedying blight rather than incubating it for incentives.

Columbia's planning exercise status quo has more and more historic buildings torn down or left to rot; energy costs soaring; developers throwing up poorly-constructed junk; and corporate lobbyists such as REDI pushing for ever-greater tax giveaways that attract losers who can't make it without taxpayer help.

The Alt.Visioning move sounds like a promising first step away from frustrations embedded in the doublespeak, the consultant lingo, and the reams of lost plans City Hall has merrily diverted Columbia's attention with over the years.  
It sounds like a promising step toward a more values-based future

People’s Visioning’ Mini-Conference
Monday, August 27
7:00 p.m.
Friends Room of the Daniel Boone Regional Library