Thursday, April 24, 2008

Who says we need a plan?

I have a problem with the "visioning thing."

Call me a cynic. I prefer skeptic. I don't put much faith in "visioning" and community gatherings to plan our future.

That makes some people really angry and I feel kinda bad about that. Believe me, it would be easier to shut up and go along and get along. But I think planning processes like the one that went through another iteration on Saturday are a largely waste of time and resources.

Most of the good things that have happened in Sisters happened because someone or a small group of people had an idea — a vision — and the passion, grit, determination (naiveté?) to push it through, sometimes in the face of outright resistance. The Quilt Show, the Sisters Folk Festival; the new Sisters Brand; the FivePine Campus — all examples of individuals or small groups pursuing a vision and making it happen. There are many more. Yes, I understand that the Community Garden came out of this process. That's a good thing. Yet, I'd argue that the gardeners would have found a way with or without the process.

In my experience, personal initiative is how things get done.

The issue of an economic development plan and an economic development director point to the flaws of the planning model that is currently being pursued. I understand the rationale behind having an economic development leader in Sisters — but what's this person going to do? We've recently seen two major projects that offered the kind of economic development the community says it wants founder and stall against planning delays and changes at City Hall and a suddenly chilly market climate.

When people with a passion and a vision and a vested interest in making it fly can't make something happen in Sisters, what is an economic development director going to do to change things? And if we really need one, why can't a re-energized Chamber of Commerce play the role.

I'm all for people getting involved. But they need to get involved where the rubber meets the road — at City Hall, at the school board, before the planning commission. Or volunteer with one of the multitude of great organizations in the community. Help put on an event or join a service club.

I don't think we need more plans or new layers of bureaucracy. We just need to get out of the way of the people who make things happen.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

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