OK, I’m showing my age in the title of this posting. But I don’t care. I’m excited that my $80 a year HinesSight weblog has stimulated some change in the $300,000,000 (eventually, perhaps) Sustainable Fairview development. This is the power of the weblog: truth. Not absolute unarguable Platonic truth—I don’t make a claim to that—but truth-as-I-see-it truth, which is what we deal with in the Blogosphere.
Today I got a group email from the management of Sustainable Fairview Associates and read the minutes of some recent member/investor meetings that I no longer go to (see “Sustainability” category to the right for some postings that describe my excellent reasons to stay home). Imagine the thrill that went up my spine when I noted a mention of me in the minutes of an Advisory Committee meeting. And my name was spelled right!
One of the project staff had noted that Internet searches of “Sustainable Fairview” or “Sustainable Fairview Associates” come up with my not-so-positive weblog postings ranked at or near the top of the search results. Well, I deserve it. I’ve put a lot of effort into pointing out the deficiencies in the planning and implementation of what was supposed to be a world class 275 acre mixed-use sustainable development here in Salem.
The minutes also noted that another top-ranked result is a sample Sustainable Fairview web site that the internationally recognized architect Christopher Alexander put up when he, briefly, was enthusiastic about working with the project (before his enthusiasm was crushed by the same forces that crushed my own). So, aside from a few local newspaper archived articles, just about all the information available on the Internet comes from people who aren’t happy with the direction Sustainable Fairview is taking.
A few years too late, now this negative publicity is getting management to finally think seriously about putting up their own web site. The irony in all this is wonderful, since I suggested a web site back in mid-2002 as part of a missive to my fellow Sustainable Fairview Associates’ members: "Communities Need Communication.” (I’ve uploaded this file in part to aid some future urban planning grad student whose thesis is on the history of this fascinatingly disappointing sustainable development effort).
I dug this out today and reread it. I was impressed with all the great ideas in this memo, and I’m not saying that just because I wrote it. Sure, that’s part of the reason, but I’d say “right on!” to whoever expresses the seemingly unarguable sentiment that a community without communication isn’t really a community. Unfortunately, nothing much was done along the lines I suggested, which in my not very humble opinion goes a long ways toward explaining why the project is stumbling along right now, rather than leaping ahead.
Last year I made another offer to the SFA management to work with a web site designer on a Sustainable Fairview site. All I wanted was a broadband satellite connection installed at my home. So for a few thousand dollars SFA now would have a beautiful informative web site if they had listened to me. Do I sound bitter and disappointed? Hopefully I do, because that is how I feel.
Read “Communities Need Communication” and you hear the voice of a new SFA member who was willing to work like crazy, whether paid or a volunteer, for a sustainable development he and his wife deeply believed in. Now, my voice is that of a disillusioned investor who just wants to get his money out of the project as soon as possible.
Multiply me by the many people like me who have similarly lost faith in Sustainable Fairview, and you know why I feel so bad—not so much for me, but for the Green creativity and energy that have gone down the tubes at a time the Earth needs that so much.