UPDATED: City Leaders, Economic Development, & South Cape

Today, a colleague asked if I have read the article in the Southeast Missourian about south Cape.  I found two things equally infuriating when I read “City officials, neighborhood leaders look to improve south Cape, but when and how?” The premise of the article rests on areas of concern in south Cape including parks, housing, education, and crime, and the solutions-oriented debate about “how to do it and what should happen first.”

First, the idea of when and how. In general, Cape Girardeau is covered by TWO economic development plans. The 20 year City of Cape Girardeau Comprehensive Plan was set forth in 2007 and identified needs of recreation, transportation linkages, walkability, jobs centers, and affordable housing stock. The second economic development plan is the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) created in 2013. Among its five-year goals are affordable housing, and “access to health care, improved recreational opportunities, and quality education facilities.” In our area, we also have a Downtown Comprehensive Plan under the DREAM Initiative and a Neighborhood Development Initiative (NDI).

Although the plans are all separate and were created by different entities, they all in some way cover or touch the area known as south Cape. According to the site Nextdoor, the south Cape boundaries appear to be Independence to Southern Expressway (crossing over 74) and East/West Minnesota to Spanish.

Second, the phrase “we are kind of looking for leaders to emerge…” quoted in the Southeast Missourian article. The City of Cape Girardeau Comprehensive Plan was put forth in a collaborative effort between the Mayor, the Council members, plan steering committee, the Planning Commission, City officials, and Arcturis Architecture and Design. Page 1 of the City of Cape plan shows the names of leaders who came forward to help. Page 105 shows the public engagement process that included a community survey, focus groups, workshops, and stakeholder and city staff interviews. The six focus group sessions (including a Southside group) contained 6-10 members identified in distinct areas (pg 118).  In addition, Arcturis identified 23 stakeholders “In order to improve the comprehensive planning process and heighten the likelihood of implementation” of the plan, and an oversight committee was created to govern the plan. You can see the names of those individuals here.

The CEDS was created by Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission (SEMO RPC). The CEDS committee was comprised of SEMO RPC members throughout the planning district. You can see the names of the individuals and the planning process involved in Southeast Missouri on page 125 of the CEDS plan.  All of the plans were reliant on community stakeholders and public input.

As a side note, in June our city council authorized $80,000 in funds for Teska Associates, Inc. to update our City of Cape Comprehensive Plan.  There was also $50,000 in funds authorized last year for a Downtown Cape Comprehensive Plan.  In the Southeast Missourian article, we are told that “city and community leaders have traveled to Atlanta twice since 2016” to learn about Purpose Built redevelopment.

We have spent money and time identifying the needs of the community. We have identified the city and civic leaders, community members, and organizations that can help with the effort.  Mayor Rediger says that city officials can’t be the “quarterback”  and that they hope to have leaders come forward by the end of the year. My question is why we are not looking within the plans we have developed and contacting the individuals who took the time to come forward and identify the problems. At the very least we should be relying on the oversight committee for the comprehensive plan – especially considering it is in re-write at this moment.

In my next post on this topic, I will discuss the issue of housing. There are many examples of how housing goals are achieved in ways other than philanthropy.

 

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I Finished My Work at 8a, What are You Doing?

By 8a this morning I had met my reading goal, completed a section of my online class, fit in a short workout, met my daily writing goal, and enjoyed a lovely smoked gouda and sausage breakfast casserole. And now I am writing you this post. I have the rest of the day to complete chores, work on other parts of my business, and cook dinner to enjoy with my fiance.

Of course, the thing not immediately seen in my account of my morning is the preparation involved. I was up early because I began my nightly wind down at 9p – shutting off devices, prepping my coffee, and quieting my mind. I have spent countless hours attempting to understand what activities will prepare me to be the best writer I can be, and countless more working out a schedule that mimics the flow of my energy.  I also make breakfast casseroles and lunches on Sundays and group together my clothes for the week.

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Since I embarked on the life of a small business owner, I have come to understand some days will be like this, but many will not. It is important to seize upon those moments that can help you advance your goals whenever they present themselves. For me, preparation has been an essential component in helping me meet the demands of the self-employed lifestyle. This includes a weekly schedule, pre-preparing a menu, a workflow schedule, project management software, and daily reading and writing goals.

Do you have any tips to share?

Public Problems, Your Story or Mine?

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An example of a public problem is the proliferation of crime in housing projects. It is almost impossible to describe the problem without referencing social constructs.

Social Constructs

According to the book, Theories of the Policy Process, social constructs are created by policy makers to cast beneficiaries or recipients in either a positive or negative light. In turn, the distribution of benefits or encumbrances reflects and further defines the perception of the target population. The book further delineates target groups into four classifications: advantaged, contenders, dependents, and deviants (Sabatier, Paul 2007, p 101-103).

In this view, people living in housing projects could easily vacillate between being defined as dependent (mothers, poor) or deviant (welfare mothers, criminals) depending on who is defining them. Unfortunately, the social construct surrounding housing projects is often the deviant construct.

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Quartz – Google gives answers but deprives us of intelligence

Search engines play one of the most significant roles in our technologically enabled lives by shaping how we conceptualize and interact with information, knowledge, wisdom, and arguably reality itself. They are our externalized reasoning machines, both facilitating our access to knowledge and quickly becoming our knowledge. They are where we go to research, clarify, and…

via Googling gives us answers—but deprives us of intelligence — Quartz

I think this where the importance of teaching our children how to look things up the “old fashioned” way becomes critical to developing a critical thought process.  I was very lucky to grow up in a “look it up” household right before the dawn of giants like Google.   Whenever I asked my family a question, they told me to look it up.  I had to learn how to use an Encyclopedia and a dictionary.  I also had to learn how to work the Dewey Decimal system and reference rooms at the local library.

By the time that search engines became a thing, they made my work easier for sure. Number one, because it was right at my fingertips, number two because I developed the critical thinking skills necessary to form my own opinion based on what was being offered up.

What do you think? Should youth learn how to access material the “old-fashioned” way?  Or are those days long behind us?

-Brandi