This post is a response to an anonymous comment I received from my first Us vs. Them post on June 15th. I meant to reply sooner but I got caught up in the festival and put this issue aside for a minute (or a day or two). This particular comment was from someone I shall henceforth refer to as being Anon 1:42.
Anon 1:42 gave what I thought was a well reasoned rebuttal to my contention that the anti tower folks embraced change while those who opposed the tower wanted to stop time.
As Anon 1:42 put it "those two dumbed-down buckets into which you're placing everyone who has participated do a disservice to the participants and the process".
I gotta tell ya, I like the "dumbed down buckets" metaphor.
Anon 1:42 went on to assert that; "To classify those who aren't willing to accept all proposals for changing the heart of Columbia as "wanting to stop time" is laughable."
Okay, I am guilty on both scores. Those were simply rhetorical grenades designed to draw attention to what is at stake here.
I do believe that we are engaged in a battle to influence that great unknowing or uninformed group of people who occupy the middle ground. I further believe that a very large percentage of Columbia residents don't really pay attention to what is going on.
I continually encounter people who haven't a clue about this issue. I talk to everybody. I've questioned complete strangers and others I am acquainted with. Some folks have lived in Columbia for a very long time and others are recent transplants. They all shared a common characteristic of having busy lives. Most of the people were unable to tell me who their County Councilperson was or who was their representative on the Columbia Council.
I readily submit that my little random sampling is exactly that, random and unscientific so that it may not be indicative of anything. On the other hand, I challenge anyone to try it out for themselves. Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a cafe or bar, ask them if they live in Columbia and then ask them if they are familiar with ZRA-79 or ZRA-83. If you work with them most will acknowledge that they heard something about a high rise condo that is going to be built in Town Center but that's about it.
So my point is that sometimes you have to throw a few of these rhetorical grenades around to get peoples attention. Since the anti tower / height restriction forces got out of the gate early and lined up all the politicians (who just so happened to be in a horse race of an election at the time), the forces of reason (ahem) needed to shout WAIT A MINUTE in order to get the debate a little more even sided. Because at the end of the day both sides need to convince and mobilize the great middle in order to advance their own interpretation of the "vision" for Columbia.
So call them "dumb buckets" if you will but I still believe that the majority of those in favor of ZRA-79 and ZRA-83 have a vision of a future Columbia that more resembles a middle class commune than that of a vibrant dynamic community.
Just my opinion of course.
Hungry in the Howard Building
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