Friday, August 21, 2009

A Single Fact Motivating ABetterShreveport.org and Efforts Like the Master Plan

I'm inspired by the shared task of planning our city together. I hope others are too. Here's why:

There's a fact out there, supported by a lot of research, that should motivate us. It should motivate us to improve the quality of life in Shreveport, be it through the master planning will be doing tomorrow, or by participating in groups like ABetterShreveport.org, or any neighborhood association or local, non-profit, public-interest group. The fact is this:

THE AVERAGE LEVEL OF QUALITY OF LIFE IN A CITY
IS NOT PREDETERMINED BY ITS LOCATION.

Instead, it's opportunities for good jobs, social interaction, exercise, and experiencing nature that more predictive of health and happiness. If you have a fulfilling job (paid or unpaid, thereby including homemakers) and an active social life, if you exercise regularly, and if you're outside relatively often, you're more likely to report a high level of physical health, and happiness, and satisfaction with your quality of life.

Those things can be affected by the way a city is built and amended over time. Transportation technologies affect our opportunities to socialize with each other, to exercise, or experience the outdoors. Retail and residential development patterns affect those things as well. They can also be affected by a city's governance is organized, such as our master planning process giving us a chance to feel empowered, hopefully. And these things are also influenced by the evolving identity of a city, partly a function of its past, but also a result of conscious reflection, which in turn can influence the programs and events it produces. Gotta love our festivals and our general southern appreciation for a good time, right? Would our Red River Revel be the same without it?

But all those aspects of cities are malleable, can be changed, and can even designed very intentionally to create predictable outcomes. The gist of all this is that we can make Shreveport a place where we're more likely to socialize, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors, and even create good jobs for ourselves by doing two things. First, by creating opportunities socialize in open spaces--in cafes, coffeeshops, or sidewalks of pedestrian-oriented downtowns. Socializing allows us to see what we have to offer each other which eventually leads to profitable ventures, and good jobs. Second, by creating opportunities to walk or bike from place to place can entice us to both exercise regularly, and experience the outdoors. Better living is there for the taking. We just have to carefully plan ahead to create it.

So, just because Shreveport isn't as beautiful or important as many other cities, doesn't mean it can't be a better place to live in than those more fashionable places. We can make Shreveport a place where people are generally happier and healthier than their counterparts elsewhere. Other cities have done it, and we can too.

So, take that, doubters! Think Shreveport's doomed to be at the bottom of any list of great places to live? Think again!

Or, more to the point, join us in the master planning effort, or in ABetterShreveport.org, or at your own neighborhood association, or any public interest non-profit group, like Shreveport Green, the Shreveport Historic Preservation Society, the Highland Restoration Association, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, SankofaVision.org, etc. There's a lot going on to be a part of, folks. So jump on in and join us! Do it!

1 comment:

karim said...

Good post on Motivation.

Thanks,
karim - Positive thinking