UPDATE: 10:05 Cleaned up some typos…
Because much recent change has been unhealthy and change is rabid, seemingly beyond our control, we want to freeze our communities as they are. We do this to protect our psyches and our investments. Unable to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy change, we simplistically conclude that all change is bad, trapping us in already unfulfilling habitation. Resilience empowers us to change in ecologically healthy ways.“
~ Randolph Hester, Design for Ecological Democracy
Resistance to change is strong in Traverse City. In some cases, for good reason. In others, and perhaps more often, quite questionable reasons. We won’t get into the details on any specifics today, but when I hear the phrase “you/we need to protect the character of our neighborhoods” I fear the NIMBY has been released. I simply don’t know what that phrase means; we all have different perspectives on our neighborhoods and I don’t think anyone is out to destroy them.
In fairness, I try to be aware of my own negative and quite predictable reactions to change when it surfaces. I ask myself, “why am I resisting this?” “What’s another way to look at this?” “I’m a blinded by something?”
I’m of a generation raised on change. We see a need for it in almost every corner. Ecologically, we’ve inherited a system that is only beginning to value, and really understand, the significance of protecting our land and water. Economically, we’ve inherited a system built on inequality and wastefulness. Socially, we came after the civil rights movement; treating everyone fairly is the norm and that goes beyond simple skin color differences. Yet, we still see people who can’t stand that someone else is different from themselves. That needs to change.
I think Hester’s approach is helpful to find balance. He writes about three principles to community development: the resilient form, the enabling form and the impelling form.
- The resilient form is the goal for ecologically resilience and, for me, is the primary step to becoming economically, socially and culturally resilient. It is unique from sustainability in that it embraces the intentional change required to move forward. *
- The enabling form is the premise that the design of cities/projects need to bring us together and connect us; this is both in terms of process and outcome. A project that creates a community divide must be healed or it will haunt a community into the future. Better yet, create a process based on collaboration and broad benefit.
- The impelling form is about designing, and managing, places that inspire people to live motivated by joy rather than “insecurity, fear and force.” The impelling form brings us together in mutual confidence and engagement.
In short, and all I really wanted to say today, in order to for Traverse City to protect anything, we are going to need to accept some change and embrace our inner YIMBYs.
What are your thoughts on change?
Do we resist it too fiercely?
Or, do you feel we embrace it too freely?
* Locally, Dave Barrons explores community resilience in a myriad of ways on his show Investigating Resilience. Recent shows have discussed the role of placemaking in resilient communities, and previous shows have explored education, providing for people with disabilities, birding, economics, public health, the local food movement, water issues…