As someone who has had very little exposure to the workings of politics and public policy development, these experiences have been enlightening. Among the basic lessons of my education, I've learned that:
- Politicians do, indeed, listen to their constituents, especially where local issues are concerned. Yes, the wealthy and powerful do seem to get more results, but the average Joe can influence his alderman, city director, mayor, or congressman.
- Many decisions are already made before the general public becomes aware of the question at hand. This is usually not a result of some conspiracy of silence, but is the product of a common process of a need being defined, then some committee being formed to hash out available options. Most major projects, and many minor ones, are years in the making, so it pays to stay informed get involved early. Finally, recommendations or plans go forward to some governmental entity for action.
It is usually at this point that a newspaper article or TV news feature appears and folks get upset because they didn't get a chance to speak their mind.
Well, here's you big chance to help shape the future!
You can volunteer to serve on some of the many neighborhood groups or committees and spend a couple of nights per month sitting in City Council meetings, or you spend a few minutes on line take Metroplan's Imagine Central Arkansas survey!
The survey is easy, it is short, and it will help shape the future of our community. Here's the press release, including a link to the survey:
OVER 500 RESIDENTS IMAGINE CENTRAL ARKANSAS
Online Activity and Hosted Visits Capture Priorities Across the Region
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – February 1, 2013 – Since the beginning of 2013, over 500 Central Arkansans have identified their priorities for the future and region through Imagine Central Arkansas, the regional visioning effort launched by Metroplan in mid-September. By completing the “Choose Your Future” online activity, users were allowed to select five priorities ranging from faster commute, less government spending, more transportation choices, parks and natural areas, protecting the environment, household transportation cost, convenience, and less regulations. Then users were presented with choices to be made that will impact the future as the region grows.
As part of the launch of “Choose Your Future,” Metroplan facilitated a series of interactive workshops with Leadership Greater Little Rock, Hays Senior Citizen Center, Estem Charter High School, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Hot Springs Village, Central Arkansas Library System, and Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Though priorities varied, the majority of citizens felt the following choices would make Central Arkansas a more desirable place to live:
- Better coordination of transportation with housing, retail and commercial
- Building a high-capacity rail system
- Better networks for walking and cycling
“Choose Your Future” is available for anyone to take online at future.imaginecentralarkansas.org. Residents are encouraged to use the tool through the end of February. Afterward, results from the online tool will be tallied to create various long-range scenarios that will be presented and voted on for Central Arkansas in early spring.
Imagine Central Arkansas officially kicked off with a celebration on September 19th, followed by a number of “Hometown Visits” at festivals, campuses, public spaces and other venues throughout the region. At each of these events, Central Arkansans were given the opportunity to “imagine” our region’s future through several activities.
Imagine Central Arkansas is the name used to identify the planning effort led by Metroplan, the metropolitan planning organization, to expand transportation, housing and development choices within the four-county region that includes Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties, and to set priorities for transportation investments in central Arkansas. Individuals, local businesses, corporations, nonprofits, the state and local governments, colleges and universities, and special interest groups who share a common passion for and interest in preserving our region’s rich culture, history and resources while providing transportation choices that contribute to quality growth and economic development are involved in the process. Imagine Central Arkansas strives to be all-inclusive so that each and every voice has an opportunity to be heard.
Imagine Central Arkansas will culminate in a new metropolitan transportation and development plan by late 2013. Future public events will be planned throughout 2013. Residents can learn more about Imagine Central Arkansas and participate at any time by going to www.ImagineCentralArkansas.org, facebook.com/Metroplan or via twitter @Metroplan, #ImagineCentralAR.
I've taken the survey, so you can either get on board and express your desires or you can leave it up to those of us that have! If you choose not to participate, us decision-drivers just don't want to hear any complaints.