When the planner in the NashvilleNext video below talks about how she and others have worked the past year with community meetings to bring us to the current NashvilleNext plan, I'm left with the sense that if they can so easily replace our community plans with NashvilleNext blueprints based on gimmicks like post-it notes and spinning wheels, why can't they just abandon the NashvilleNext plan behind once it is written? Sticky notes are easily misplaced.
And what troubles me deeply about video on the NashvilleNext plan is that community leaders have to be trained to be "better engaged". Leaders are already by definition plugged in, aren't they? Rather than finding out from leaders what they need, it seems like Bernhardt's department is doing a total about face.
Compare Metro's classroom-style treatment of neighborhood leaders to a neighborhoods conference recently held in Oregon, where neighborhood leaders trained other neighborhood leaders.
The risk of simply allowing Metro government officials to "train" Nashville's neighborhood leaders is that the expectations of the latter may not be effectively communicated to the former. The power equation causes government leaders to manage the expectations of neighborhoods rather than respond to them with good service. Neighbors are more than trainees, and planners should approach them with their own open, teachable hearts.
UPDATE: The Nashville Civic Design Center did not mean to say only what appeared in their Twitter stream about Metro Planning's intentions in NashvilleNext "trainings," but part of the problem of feeding Twitter their messages from other social media applications is that the 140 character tweet truncates and distorts the message. The casual observer scanning their Twitter feed might be left with the impression that, again, planners are educating the community about themselves:
While a purely innocent in intention, the tweet does communicate a flawed message.