By Robin D. Parson
You all may have heard that our City Council passed a resolution to join SustainbleCT (Check it out here: sustainablect.org). This is good news that will become exciting news if we can capitalize on the opportunities and support membership affords us.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Communities can evolve by choice or chance. We may dislike change, but one way or another change will happen. Technology, demographics, market trends, and consumer attitudes all effect changes in our local community whether we like it or not. So, change will come and, as with any natural process, you need to figure out how to use it to your advantage or it will swamp you like a tidal wave. Right now, we have been effectively swamped by the changes that have taken place since West Haven’s “good old days.”
West Haven should have learned its lesson by now about boom-and-bust cycles created by outside entities. We are surrounded by the hulking ruins of those booms-gone-bust. The world has changed and our challenge today is how to design a path to success that delivers more reliable results over the long term. Not success just for the investors or just for one in-crowd or another, success for ALL our residents. That path is sustainability. In a sustainable economy, everyone can thrive and no one gets left holding the bag for people who took the money and ran.
Municipal planning guru Ed McMahon (not that Ed McMahon, another one, and the inspiration for much of this posting) invites us to: “Try to imagine a company that didn’t have a business plan. It would have a very hard time attracting investors or staying competitive in the marketplace. The same is true of communities. A community plan is simply a blueprint for the future. People may differ on how to achieve the community’s vision, but without a blueprint, a community will flounder.” West Haven, like the State of Connecticut, has, in the words of a recent article in Governing, “failed to position itself to react to changing demographics and location preferences.”
What SustainableCT offers us is a framework for digging ourselves out of this rut. That framework comprises a system for tracking achievements that strengthen our existing resources and put us in a more resilient economic, social, and environmental position.
Robin D. Parsons