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Having the Right Conversation
Sustainable? This is the question we must ask of ourselves, our consultants and our governmental officials. Are we creating buildings, neighborhoods, towns, and cities that can stand the test of time? Will they be economically, environmentally, and social sustainable? The Sustainable Shelby process brought together widely divergent groups of people to collectively imagine a better place in the future and to map a series of goals that would need to be met in order to get there. These highly specialized interest groups normally have little discourse or interaction. Separate, they form isolated and independent voices clamoring for pieces of an overall solution. But joined together in the Sustainable Shelby initiative, something wonderful has taken place: real dialogue between those that rarely talk and the emergence of a shared vision. The silos that usually separate professions and interest groups were pierced. But it is not enough to pierce the silos; truly, as Doug Farr instructed us, they need to be destroyed. This is a task before every participant, group, and institution involved in Sustainable Shelby. Each of us must sacrifice time and resources if this is going to occur. We need to collaborate with different folks, partner with different groups, continually strive to make our efforts more and more holistic. In the midst of the worst economic climate of a lifetime, one might argue this is not the time to worry with the future of our community, but if this is not the time, then when? I believe it actually is the most compelling time for our world is shifting rapidly in chaotic ways all around us. The President’s Stimulus Package requires each local community to make hard choices and careful picks of what to do. Thankfully, our community is better prepared to make those choices because of the Sustainable Shelby process. We understand much better how interrelated are our resources, how dependant our outcomes are on collaboration and invention. One immediate goal is the passage of a Unified Development Code to help guide future development and redevelopment of our region. This Code has been in the incubation phase for a long time. The conclusions of Sustainable Shelby come at a perfect time to inform, improve, and hopefully speed the adoption of that Code.