The truth is, I don’t know much about Northampton’s sustainability plan. I should, but I just don’t. This plan addresses so many aspects of what I care about: community, conservation, sense of place, development. It is going to have a huge impact on the town that my wife and I plan to call home for quite some time. I should have read it, I should get myself a copy.
However, even without reading it, I have been exposed to some of the controversy surrounding it through the editorial pages of the local newspaper. An editorial in the Hampshire Gazette this week caught my attention. In it, Joel Russell a local land use attorney and planner asserted that the “Sustainable Northampton Plan” lacks one vital component. This one thing was not a particular policy or regulation. Nor was it was a certain goal or a target. Instead, Mr. Russell asserts that that the plan lacks a “compelling vision to help create the future we want and deserve as a community.” He continues, “The plan should be a call to action… it should be exciting and have a sense of urgency. After all, this is about our future and the lives of future generations.”
However, this is the line that really caught my attention, “The Sustainable Northampton Plan needs to be more inspirational.” Russell suggests that all the measures, all the metrics, all the bureaucratic details be put in an appendix. These should all be translated into a compelling vision designed not to tell people where to go, but to inspire them to get there. When was the last time someone suggested that a government document be inspiring? When was the last time an official plan gave us a vision of who we are and who we could be? Continue reading