Monday, April 09, 2007

Skirmish Lines Appear between Neighborhood Alliance and Nashville's Agenda 2

The Nashville Neighborhood Alliance (NNA) is launching an organizing effort to counter and to balance recent efforts by "Nashville's Agenda 2" (NA2; NA1 happened in 1993). Calling NA2 a "top down process that began with A-List financial, business and community leaders" in one of their e-mails, NNA tells its contacts in the 125 neighborhood associations represented in last August's NNA Summit on the Future of Nashville to encourage friends and neighbors to fill out NA2's online survey and attend NA2's public meetings.

That e-mail is signed by John Stern, who is also curiously listed as one of NA2's 2007 Planning Committee members. Mr. Stern suggests that neighborhood leaders bring the Agenda of Neighborhoods that resulted from the NNA summit to NA2's table.

In an unpublished editorial sent out to supporters over the weekend, NNA President Gene TeSelle referred to tensions between groups' goals:

When there are organized voices from major downtown investors who like stadiums and convention centers, real estate developers who like denser zoning and less regulation, and other business lobbyists, all of which make their contribution to Metro's tax base (and to the campaign funds of political candidates!), ordinary citizens and their neighborhoods are often lost from sight.

We think the neighborhood perspective expressed in our vision takes many different interests into account and harmonizes them by asking what impact they will have on Metro and all of its people.
We will keep tabs on how effective NNA is at influencing the NA2's agenda and on whether NA2 develops goals that do not seem oriented to grassroots organizing.

I do have trouble with a so-called community-based effort like NA2's that starts at the top rather than in communities, but NNA has its own set of problems to overcome. While I participated in NNA's 3 summits last year, I was not uncritical of the effort. Some local bloggers like Sam Davidson and Sean Braisted appear to be involved with NA2. This is becoming an interesting run-up to the August elections.

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