The New, New Visioning Project

Earlier this Spring, I wrote somewhere skeptically (but with some guarded optimism - how's that for covering my bases?) about the upcoming "visioning" project for the Pittsburgh region.

The "Regional Visioning Project" now has an executive director (Allen Kukovich) and a website (here), and a PR firm (Judith Kelly). Off it goes to solicit grass-root input on a "shared vision of the region's best future," which is, without question, a noble enterprise and a far better approach to strategic planning than the top-down "don't look now, but it's a Renaissance" tradition that earlier Pittsburghers made famous. Tonight, in fact (May 20), at 6:30 pm at the New Hazlett Theatre on the North Side, CityLIVE! is hosting a "visioning" forum that's open to the public. (Click here for more info and to RSVP.) If you have time, by all means: go!

But I can't set aside my skepticism, on the principal ground that the RVP's Steering Committee is a bloated amalgam of names-being-dropped and usual (no new vision) suspects. Here and there, I can pick out people who are good at walking the walk as well as talking the talk. But you have to have a critical eye to get beyond the sense that this is just another excuse for a fundraiser and a future appearance in the Post-Gazette's SEEN section. There is meat on the committee. It is slathered in unneeded slaw and fries.

I also laughed quietly when I read Allen Kukovich's biography. He's not just someone who's been around the Pittsburgh block more than a few times and knows where the bodies are buried. Importantly, he and his family "live in Manor, Pennsylvania on the same property occupied by his family for four generations."

Not that Pittsburghers would ever want to validate the idea that outsiders are welcome contributors to regional visioning conversations!

Comments

1 Response to "The New, New Visioning Project"

Anonymous said... 5/26/2009 7:47 AM

Isn't it ironic that the folks who have spent so much energy criticizing Pittsburgh and its economic development folks for doing too many studies, have somehow pried over $2M out of their downsized coffers for . . . another big study. Let's hope this is more successful than their famous brand image for the region.

And, why is it that we think group gropes work for strategic planning, when there is no evidence to support this. We don't do brain surgery by untrained committee. Why do we expect folks with no background in economics, poli sci, public policy, law etc to be able to suggest or craft reasonable regional strategies?

In the words of the insightful despair.com, "None of us is as dumb as all of us."

What is missing in the region is leadership. Not finger-in-the-air following of the political winds, but rather insightful, popularly-informed, and yes, courageous decision making.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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