Monday, January 23, 2006

Charrette: What Happened?

Unquestionable is the profundity of Homer Simpson.

The only true philosopher of our time, Homer has spoken of the most pressing issues facing our society, usually with the delicacy of a sledge hammer. One of his finest sayings, one that is surely oft-repeated in the ale houses of our country, extolled the virtues of vice:

“To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

He is a man with truth running through his veins.

And it is with the guidance of this one man--this Everyman--that I broach the topic of Town Center.

“To the Charrette! The cause of, and solution to, all of Columbia’s problems.”

What was heralded as a “new” way to plan growth--one that would help mitigate differences and achieve compromise--is beginning to resemble the old way with each passing day. Compromise is a distant memory, swept into the dark corners of the Wilde Lake High School cafeteria, and the cacophony of critical voices has swelled to deafening levels, as indictments of the process and its sponsors and facilitators are thrown without hesitation (and often without ground). This is not to say criticism is unwarranted--indeed, it surely is. It is instead a way to preface the question: “What the hell happened?"

While my initial plan was to write a comprehensive post about the Charrette and its aftermath, covering all of the details and offering my position on most of the debated issues, that doesn't seem possible for several reasons. The main reason, however, is the scope of such an undertaking. Sure, I've got free time, but not that much.

So instead, I'm going to try to address each issue individually as time permits and as the situation changes; as should be expected from an approach such as this, many of the posts will overlap, and when they do, I'll include all relevant links. And though I haven't figured out how to do it yet, permalinks for each post in this series will be available under a soon-to-be-created "Charrette" banner on the right.

I haven't decided if this is a good idea or a bad one, or if it will even work or just flop. Like the Charrette, I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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