What might Nashville be like in twenty-five years? While my friends and I have been seeking to answer that question through the lens of the “transition towns” movement, with what we have called “Transition Nashville,” Metro’s “Nashville Next” program has been the city’s attempt to answer that question, and, to a certain extent, the planners involved in Nashville Next have done a good job. They have asked at least some of the right questions, and they have solicited, and elicited, a fair amount of citizen involvement in their visioning, but I think there are some unasked questions and misguided assumptions in their process. I think “the next Nashville” will be very different from what they envision, and that proceeding on their basic assumption, that the future will, overall, be a lot like the past, could produce some very unhappy results. If we recognize these errors and correct our course, Nashville could still be a pretty nice place to live as we approach mid-century. I am going to start by quoting what Nashville Next’s website and then offer my own comments and suggestions.
This is what their website says:
NashvilleNext is based on input from more than 17,000 participants and counting. Nashvillians consistently named the following issues most important to Nashville’s future:Affordable livingIncreased transitGrowing economyWalkable, strong neighborhoods
The Guiding Principles represent the future Nashvillians want and serves as the foundation of the NashvilleNext Plan.…..3. ELEMENTS AND ACTIONSNashvilleNext includes seven plan elements. Each has its own chapter in the plan with goals, policies and actions.Art, Culture and CreativitySupport art, culture and creativity through greater artists’ education, the creation of arts districts and supporting the city’s growing creative class.Health, Livability and the Built EnvironmentSupport a healthy built environment of distinct community character by enhancing safety, transportation, housing options and green spaces.Economic and Workforce DevelopmentSupport an enhanced workforce, access to job opportunities, investment-ready places for new industries and a competitive quality of life.Land Use, Transportation and InfrastructureReinforce the connection between our land uses, transportation and infrastructure, and encourage wise investments in Nashville’s future.Education and YouthSupport a communitywide vision to provide quality care, education and opportunity to Nashville’s children and youth with the expectation that allchildren will succeed.Natural Resources and Hazard AdaptationProtect Nashville’s land, air, water and natural resources, develop wisely, reduce hazards, and become more resilient to extreme weather events.HousingEncourage housing that is affordable and accessible for all, designed in a context-sensitive manner, and that meets current and future market demands.Champion the EnvironmentNashville protects its environment through transportation and housing choices, green buildings, and infrastructure.Foster Strong NeighborhoodsNashville’s neighborhoods are safe, affordable and diverse gathering places that grow with us as we move into the future.Advance EducationNashville uses community-supported education to prepare our children and residents for tomorrow’s challenges.Create Economic ProsperityNashville has a diverse and competitive economy and high quality of life that attracts and retains a strong workforce.Expand AccessibilityAll Nashvillians, regardless of background, are able to get where they need to go throughout the county and region.Ensure Opportunity for AllNashville values its diversity and ensures that all communities share in the city’s growth and prosperity.Be NashvilleNashville is a strong community that represents the best of Southern hospitality, creativity and multiculturalism.
NR goal 1Nashville invests in and increases its natural environment for beauty, biodiversity, recreation, food production, resiliency and response to climate change through mitigation and adaptation strategies.NR goal 2All communities in Nashville enjoy equally high levels of environmental protection, equitable access to nature and opportunities to improve their health and quality of life.NR goal 3Nashville’s built environment — public, private and residential — conserves and efficiently uses land, energy, water and resources while reducing waste and pollution.NR goal 4Nashville’s built and natural environment is resilient, sustainable, and smart because it adapts to and mitigates the impact of climate change involving extreme weather, hazards and catastrophes.
The logic of Separation traps us in a paradox. The world can change only if billions of people make different choices in their lives, but individually, none of these choices makes a difference. The things that make a difference make no difference. What if I do it, and no one else does? It sure looks like almost no one else is. Why do it?
I am not actually suggesting that we do these small acts because they will in some mysterious way change the world (although they will). I am suggesting, rather, that we orient more toward where our choices come from rather than where they are going. The new story validates and clarifies our choices, but the motivation comes from somewhere else. After all, how can we really know what the consequences of our actions will be?
produce something we need here in Nashville. That could be anything from hammers and saws to clothing to shoes to food and medications. These factories would be worker-owned co-operatives, similar to the Mondragon co-ops that are thriving in Spain and around the world.