No community is an island unto itself

I am routinely amazed how often individual communities will act in a manner that is against their own best interest by not participating in regional efforts. Often, this near-xenophobic attitude has been generated by local politics or old-fashioned bad blood and is maintained over time due to distrust, political aims, bad communication, or the lack of communication altogether.

Heaven knows that most regional topics do not stop at artificial political borders. It doesn’t matter whether it is traffic congestion, economic development, utilities, emergencies, aquifers, mass transit or alternative transportation projects, air  and water pollution, obesity rates, crime rates, or a litany of other issues. To think and act in a manner other than cooperatively is both short-sighted and foolhardy.

But, time and time again, individual communities will decline to participate in a regional effort. Sadly, this can leave planning efforts inconsistent and disconnected across a region.  In addition, it leaves the individual communities competing against each other in a cannibalistic competition for scare dollars and resources.

What befuddles me is, “exactly how do these self-serving actions serve constituents or the greater good?” Perhaps that is the question community leaders should be asking themselves on a regular basis and voters should ask during election campaigns.

This entry was posted in cities, economic development, history, land use, planning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to No community is an island unto itself

  1. You make some very good points. I would add that communities–cities–don’t bother to act because they are spared the immediate consequences of inaction or non – participation in regional governance–through a a lot of factors, including distance, lack of mandates, or other compelling reasons. It’s easier to draw the curtain and watch the world go by. They feel/are self-sufficient unto themselves, serving their immediate constituents and making policies that make it harder to add additional ones that need housing, jobs, and playgrounds. And in a all fairness, cities are struggling mightily to satisfy current demands and needs.

    Cities act individually and as a group when they feel sufficiently threatened from within and without by factors that they cannot completely control. And when threatened, one strategy employed is to close ranks and to move into the power structure–once avoided– and to take positions on committees, to focus and frame the debate and to make sure their voices are heard.

    Lest we forget, constituents– the individual voters–are sometimes the ones drawing the curtains closed.

    It’s not all bad when cities close ranks. Sometimes they have a better grasp on the future for their immediate communities than a regional body does that is far far away from them and their concerns. Local control.

    How/when do neighbors and -hoods work together…? When they feel sufficiently threatened from within and without by factors that they cannot completely control.

    Finally, some cities are more proactive than others.

    Just a few observations.



  2. thwesley says:

    I thought some of the same things when Lansing released it’s attrition rates for high schoolers… this is not a “Lansing School District” problem. This is a Michigan problem. This is a problem for the country.

    As Debra said, some cities are more proactive than others. I wonder if at least the state will be proactive in this regard,



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