Monday, June 23, 2008

Chatterbox still hatin' on 'hoods

The Nashville City Paper's Richard Lawson has written another tired and disjointed screed that does the very thing he accuses neighborhood leaders of doing: demonize his opponents, neighborhood leaders. I'm not sure why he keeps trying to drive the point home that he is in the middle on this debate, because just like every previous column before it, Lawson paints all neighborhood advocates as shrill, uncompromising, monolithic hypocrites standing in the way of progress and courting danger by risking driving out developers.

It's getting redundant and unoriginal, and it's not clear that he is able to get past his own self-imposed blinders. The middle ground in Lawson's harangues seems to be whereever he chooses to stand (but not too far from developers) rather than in the real center equally distant from inordinate neighborliness and from absolute growth.

I've engaged him directly on several occasions. No matter how many cases running counter to the Lawson meme that I've given him, he chooses to ignore examples that refute his prejudice about neighborhood leaders.

In today's column he even goes so far as to blame organized neighborhoods for the lawyers and PR pros whom developers hire, as if developers are above striving for a competitive advantage on their own. And that is the flip side of his prejudice: he puts developers above reproach and writes as if they are entitled to reputations they have not yet earned as builders of great neighborhoods, instead of opportunists interested in more than just making a fair profit. One bad monolith bequeaths another.

In the end, Lawson dusts off and retreads the balance in which all of us who are not saviors developers hang: our very communal welfare rests on their personal whims and their private priorities (and such a myth is written in the very same publication that recently referred to neighborhood advocates as an elite gentry!). It's the same thing I've been told by a couple of Salemtown developers who express their sense of entitlement to do whatever they want--come run-off or diversity--without regard to community feedback.

What neither they nor Richard Lawson seem to understand is that our neighborhoods are the only lever that many of us have. And what they misjudge is the community's capacity to compromise without bending over to service their desires. They have blinded themselves to those possibilities.


  1. "redundant and unoriginal"?

    Tuesday = Council Meeting Cat Herd

    now that is redundant and unoriginal

  2. And "Craig's right"!

    Your comparison is of apples and oranges. The cat-herd thing is an announcement about a semimonthly event; Richard Lawson is writing an analysis of political and economic relations. The former is simple. Analysis assumes a greater level of complexity and it should change to suit context or to address exceptions as they arise.

    So, by definition announcements about regular meetings are redundant and unoriginal, and your criticism is lame.

    But you know what? Putting the cat herd video with it is a lot cuter than just posting, "ANNOUNCEMENT: METRO COUNCIL MEETING TONIGHT."

  3. that last post was classic.

    do we have any idea what happened to our protagonist william williams?

    it seems that every story in the CP about development is written by Lawson or Rau now.