I have been kicking around a problem for quite awhile here at the RorD headquarters (my office that doesn’t have a door and is usually covered in children Tik-Toking). When I started Revitalize, or Die., with a ton of help from my patient and delightful wife Amber, I mostly just wanted to say shit that I had bottled up for years. Working for a statewide non-profit for 10 years meant I had to bite my tongue, a lot, even when people were doing things that are phenomenally stupid. I don’t support stupid, never have, never will.
So when things started, I posted a lot about things that I felt needed to be said. Things like, tourism sucks and economic development sucks and parking sucks. Apparently, I think a lot of things suck. These things needed to be said and some of the conversations that took place around these topics, needed to be had. We can’t improve the problems facing our places, until we are honest about the fact that we have problems. I have heard from many of you, online and in-person, that these words were just what you needed to tip over the apple cart in your own town. For this, I am grateful.
But the time has come to move beyond my petulant teenage stage. As my friend and colleague Ben Muldrow pointed out, being disruptive made sense last year, but as everything we know has been disrupted, and all the problems of place have been laid bare, now we need move on to solutions. I have posted plenty about the things I think are bullshit, and you have endured my rants. Thank you. I cannot promise to refrain from more rants, that would be silly and dishonest, but I do want to do something more productive. I want to do good. I want to help.
Our places are killing us. Living amongst blighted buildings, terrifying streets, big box hell, subdivision nightmares and lifeless, useless, meaningless places is destroying us. They are making us fat, sad, lonely, lazy, addicted, angry and detached. We are in a place crisis, because our places are not doing any of the things they are supposed to. Our places were never meant to act solely as a vehicle for corporate profit- they were meant to provide people opportunity to lead dignified and proud lives. As we have sacrificed the quality of our places for the gods of corporate profit, our quality of life has absolutely tanked. I moved to a boujee neighborhood just to have a chance to experience the same lifestyle my father and grandfather lead in the most middle class of neighborhoods. To think, it’s cost prohibitive to live in a neighborhood where people can walk to a store or kids can walk to school? It’s bananas.
I know how screwed up our places are and how screwed up they are making people, and I want to make a difference in this space, so damn bad.
So it is time to move beyond pointing out what is wrong, and begin discussing strategies and solutions. This might be clunky at first. It certainly won’t be pretty, but hold tight, we will sort it out.
Here is the poorly conceived strategy. I am going to try and break down how to go about making change in your place. I want to cover all the parts, from working with city council to going after vacant property owners to burning down parking decks. I am in a fortunate position to have dealt with all these issues and I want to help as many as people as possible bring about change.
I would love your help with all of this. Have ideas? Please share them. Have questions? Please ask them. Have criticism? Shut it. There is going to be a lot of ground here and I can’t be sure what order makes the most sense, but stick around. At some point, I will get this sorted out, and when I do, I will have a metric fuckton of resources for you to utilize to help tackle all the issues in your place. Thanks for all your support so far and I can’t tell how much I love and appreciate you all for being change making badasses in your place!