Citizen Expectations in a Changing World

Oh, cool. I just learned six people are running for three open local city councilor spots in November in the suburb-city where I live: two incumbents, one former city councilor, and three new-to-city-hall folks (including someone with whom I’ve been sympatico re: sustainability issues for years!). Intentional action and leadership is needed to increase resiliency in my city, and yours, and once again, my heart gets hopeful (pathological optimist that I am).

If this is helpful to anyone else, here are my citizen expectations in a changing world (written more than ten years ago*). It is the criteria I use when deciding to vote for someone. (Note: no one has ever met this criteria, but it at least gives me a framework for comparison for what I feel is needed.)

I don’t know if I have the energy or interest this time to interview each candidate (as I did when where I Iive became the newest city in the USA in 2008). Plus, I don’t do uphill (except on my bike) so I’ve shifted most of my time investment elsewhere, but I still believe voting with our ballots (along with our dollars, forks, and pedals) to be valuable, and I will be paying attention to forums, websites, etc.

In general, I thought I’d share this in case you find it helpful wherever you may live on our shared foodshed planet, or maybe even if it encourages you to make your own set of criteria.

(To the inevitable question, especially considering that something like half — slight exaggeration, but not by much — of my original Sustainability Commission is or has served on my local city council, “Why don’t you run if you think you have all the answers, smartypants?” I have learned that I am more useful doing targeted acts of service in my areas of expertise in places where our paths and pace align, and am willing to be supportive to those who are leading with rubber-hits-the-road truth. Plus, compromises-that-kill really piss me off, and even the best of our city councilors have succumbed to that — perhaps it is inevitable? I don’t want to do that.)

*Here was my 2020 Vision, published in 2010 when all of this was still achieveable within that timeframe. I have worked to forward progress on some of these items, and planted seeds of change in the others. 2020 was its own special hell**, of course, so the date is not as important as the forward movement, and more informed and inspired leadership is needed, especially in light of the latest IPCC report.

2020 Vision for The Newest City in the United States (founded December 1, 2008/written in 2010)

* The City of Dunwoody will be carbon neutral, and will have the largest Zero Waste Zone in the United States.

* The City of Dunwoody will have a LEED Platinum (or comparable)-certified City Hall, and the highest number of LEED (or comparable)-certified buildings in the Southeastern United States.

* Every major artery in the City of Dunwoody will be a Complete Street.

* Every neighborhood in the City of Dunwoody will have a WalkScore of at least 75.

* The City of Dunwoody will have food-producing, usable green space within a half mile of every residence and business.

* The City of Dunwoody will have the largest number of locally-owned-and-operated businesses in the Southeastern United States.

* Every neighborhood lake in the City of Dunwoody will be a toxin-free, food-producing wildlife habitat.

* Every school in the City of Dunwoody, from preschool to college, will have a school garden, a Safe Routes to School program, and a No Idling program.

* No citizen in the City of Dunwoody will be food-insecure.

* The City of Dunwoody will be a designated Tree City USA, Bicycle-Friendly Community, and Atlanta Regional Commission Gold-Level Green Community.

We have no more time. And I will not join anyone in the gutter of failed imagination.

As the quote on the wall in my office says: “If you can dream it, you can live it.” Perhaps not just where I live, just yet. Although the day ain’t over . . .

**although I was somehow named the City of Dunwoody Sustainability Hero 2020 during all that. I am grateful for the good that has happened. I am deeply concerned about the dangerous greenwashing, however, specifically regarding safe-access-for-all, and the lack of actual lived expertise on these issues that I see leading the decision-making locally.

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