Monday, April 19, 2010

Bright Lights, not so Big City

I grew up in what we would call the sticks-we didn't at the time, because we didn't know-but it was, sort of. It was housing developments, hundreds of houses into the thousands, built, in this case in Central New Jersey, in the decade after the end of World War II when the tri-state area (CT, NY & NJ) looked to "The City" the way the fingers on the hand look to the thumb. As more houses brought more people, more amenities and services were added, soon overburdening the original governing infrastructure that had hosted the initial growth. Eventually, the new settlements became their own autonomous government entities. I went from growing up in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to growing up in Franklin Township and now I think it's Somerset, as opposed to Somerset County, without ever moving.

I now live in New England where everything is a LOT older, and pride in the past can be a contributing factor to less agility in coping with the present, never mind the future. Norwich, my hometown for the last eighteen plus years (I've lived here longer than anywhere else in my life and feel less at ease today than I did when I arrived), celebrated its 350th anniversary last year and as a NFH (not from here) I sometimes get the impression some of us still have fond memories of bygone days which is where we'd like to stay, even though that's not possible (nor should it be).

New England gave the United States of America the Minutemen. The anniversary of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride was yesterday. In social studies, because we don't call it history anymore, it's probably NOT even mentioned so the notion that the name of the other rider, William Dawes, would come up is is laughable. These days, they'd use twitter and IM, dude. We still have Minutemen and women, in that same tradition, pitching in across the country to lend a hand on the Parks and Rec Committee, the Getting Bill a Pony Ride for his Birthday Commission, the Zoning Board and a hundred other small steps that comprise the journey from where we are to where we want to go.

So on Mondays, I rant (and brag and sometimes scold) a bit on what we have in store this week in The Rose City as neighbors step up and help out-and if you don't live here (and don't want to move) that's fine, but you should look around where you live and at all 'that stuff' that's not quite right and that could be done better, because maybe it just needs you offering to help out. We are so much better together than we are each alone, it shouldn't need to be stated, but sometimes we get too busy to remember. So that's your reminder.
Little Queenie, I was thinking......

Tonight at 7:30 in Council Chambers, it's the second City Council meeting of the month-last Monday was a public hearing on the proposed budget,
remember? The meeting agenda is here and I'm trying to understand what is, or is not, happening with economic development across the city and capital improvements of rec facilities in Mohegan Park. Maybe after the public hearing date is set and that discussion is had, I'll have a better grasp of the intent.

And in terms of Economic Development (capital letters? Sure, why not?) there's a
news item on the website of the Norwich Community Development Corporation, about 'a beginning set of economic development strategies to the Norwich City Council (being presented) on Monday, April 19th at 7:30.' That's tonight and it's item #3 on the agenda. You can find a draft of the plan itself, here.

Thanks to Bob M for shepherding as well as to the dozens of folks who pitched in and gave up hundreds of hours on weekends to mull and discuss and then went back to work during the week and tweaked and outlined some of what will be presented tonight. It's not perfect (they'll tell you that, themselves) and they're not done-but a plan is only a plan until it's implemented so it's up to all of us to get smart and then get on board.

Tomorrow night at seven in the basement conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the
Commission on the City Plan and their agenda is filled with the fine tuning of 'big picture' items where attention to detail, or sometimes lack of same, can spell the difference between progress and stagnation.

On Wednesday morning at nine in the Dime Bank Community Room (the bank over on Route 82), it's a regular meeting of the Norwich
Children's First Initiative/School Readiness Council, folks, as the budget strings tighten, I would assume who could use all the help they can get in helping our children learn and retain the skills, education and training needed for the 21st Century. Good luck with that. Their website is an unshirted disaster--looking for meeting minutes? They're all on line-as long as by 'all' you mean anything from December 2004 through February 2007. Lacking any semblance of currency, they are, for me, another well-meaning but not well-doing agency who is always surprised when so few of the rest of us understand what they do and how we can help.

Thursday morning at 7:3o in their offices at 77 Main Street, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation, NCDC, and though I don't have the agenda, suspect it will have at least something to do with what happens next to the strategic plan after its presentation to the City Council Monday night. I don't think there's anyone talked about more and more often, with less actual knowledge and understanding, in all of Norwich, than NCDC. Sort of the Illuminati meets the Jedi Knights with some elements of
The Teletubbies, okay, maybe NOT those teletubbies, thrown in...Proving yet again we don't know what we don't know.

And that's as good a reason to lead lives of engagement as I can imagine, so that together we continue on our way to where we're going. See you at something?
-bill kenny

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