Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Decisions and Revisions

The first Farmers’ Market on the Waterfront for 2011 kicks off this morning at ten in Howard T. Brown Park. Local farmers will offer the best and freshest of their fruits and vegetables while artists and artisans have handmade products and art pieces. You’ll have a chance to get some fresh air, grab some lunch and spend a few minutes humming a verse or two of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.

Actually, initiatives like the Farmers’ Market are important and not just for the farmers. They are an opportunity to attract people who might otherwise not have reasons to be in downtown to do so and by their engagement and interaction create new or additional opportunities for themselves and others. It’s called change.

The Farmers’ Market is also another step away from that paralyzing fear of failure we have so often here in Norwich that mandates ‘if I don’t do anything, I can’t do anything wrong.’ Of course, not doing anything means nothing changes and you’re about to get a property tax bill that underscores what a good idea NOT ever changing really isn’t. Stasis is not the natural state of any living thing and our city is very much a living thing.

We have attempted our Adventure in Smart Growth and Economic Development (I figure 'adventure' and the capital letters make it all sound kind of sexy) before but that’s when the troubles and travails start. When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. I think we’ve had enough scenic detours.

Our journey needs a map with a destination and agreement on a route and a timeline. We also have to agree on where we are starting from, and here in Norwich, that's a topic that can take all day to decide.

It's not like we haven't done this before. If you were to gather up all the studies, surveys, plans and proposals for Norwich in the past twenty years and stack them atop one another they might reach the moon, but they probably couldn't reach a conclusion.

A lot has been written about data-driven decisions and with good reason. No matter how much you believe something to be true, without provable and demonstrable facts, decisions, large and small, are often based on opinions and beliefs and when that’s the case, your mileage may vary and with it, the results for which you were hoping.

There’s a saying ‘measure twice and cut once.’ It’s as appropriate for suits as it is in creating a plan for a community’s economic development. Part of measuring is knowing when you have enough information to make a decision and then finally choosing to decide and following through with the consequences--accepting them, understanding them and using them to help take us to where we need to go.
-bill kenny

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