Sean Bowlin, LMT’s Business Journal editor had some interesting words to say in today’s journal:
I appreciate his sense of hope and positivity, I really do. I can relate to his view of Laredo since I also am a transplant from a much bigger city and really like Laredo. Unfortunately his quote “From what I understand, there have been master plans in the past but they’ve been shelved for various reasons.” does not inspire confidence that new plans are going to be looked at any more seriously.
I like his 1st, 2nd & 3rd points that need attention but isn’t a key ingredient still missing? It isn’t just business leaders and city leaders that can make a shift in perception change, it is also your regular folk – you know, the 99% of the rest of Laredo. Where is the nurturing of new business owners and new arts organizations and new leaders? Even lowly local bloggers (none who are business owners that I know of) shape how outsiders view Laredo – we all have regular readers from other states and other countries.
Let me give you an extremely sad example of potential (& loads of $$) wasted – take the Downtown Revitalization plan being developed. I went to the September 22, 2010 meeting and final public meeting on November 17, 2010. One of the points I had brought up was how can there be little to no downtown residents as part of the “stakeholders” list and also, based on their own maps, more than 50% (close to 75%) of the area they are supposed to be “masterplanning” is composed of RESIDENTIAL AREAS.
At this meeting, I asked for input from the community to be taken because if they are including short- and long-term goals, local residents can do a tremendous job with mobilizing in the very short-term and feed from a united vision and agree to clean-up or plant or create some sort of move for the better in the downtown areas. Small changes by regular people can make such a difference. If they wanted buy-in and support from the community, they had to address the public and not just wait for people to go to them on three occasions in a little publicized meeting.
So, the audience was told – “Hm, grassroots, sounds promising, we will do that.” and we were told that a meeting would be planned for the residents of the downtown areas in two weeks. Read that again – two WEEKS. Two months later – no downtown resident meeting, no contact from the architects, no update on their website AT ALL, information is outdated and the calendar is pretty much empty. Believe it or not, I even volunteered in front of many witnesses, yes VOLUNTEERED to go door to door and post flyers for a meeting.
How sad. But, Mr. Bowlin, never give up. I won’t. I’ve already sunk plenty of my savings (with no business return) to make my abandoned downtown house livable and know there are many other residents who are also willing to help with a unified focus. I do try to keep my little hobby blog positive and informative but I am not going to hide the fact that this city spends a lot of money while spinning its wheels. There is a strong disconnect between leaders and the residents – and maybe if a few readers get more involved with the goings-on of our not-so-transparent or responsive governance, maybe it won’t be as much.