Cultural Diversity in Columbia: It’s A Good Thing!
Next up on the agenda for the Downtown Plan? The drafting of a Cultural Master Plan for Downtown, as required in the legislation. Hired for this purpose at the developer’s expense is Lord Cultural Resources, the largest cultural planning firm in the world, with an impressive resume that includes The World Trade Center Memorial Museum in New York, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
As part of the process, a Cultural Advisory Committee has been meeting extensively with the community to get their ideas on what that plan should look like. Since September, there have been two large community-wide public meetings and four focus groups (one each for teens, young professionals, parents of young children, and older adults). Following that, a survey went out via e-mail so that anyone who is interested can participate.
The survey is here, and the message that went out with it reads:
It is important that your voice be included to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are shared with the Advisory Committee. Please share this link with your organization’s database as well as family, friends and others who might be interested in providing their input.
For me and Columbia 2.0, it is truly exciting to see the nuts and bolts of the plan coming together. But, it seems not everybody views this as an opportunity for inclusion.
Recently, I witnessed an individual from the Columbia Association camp dismiss the Cultural Advisory Committee’s efforts to reach out to the community as disingenuous, after a community member had expressed excitement about receiving the survey to participate.
This attitude is really disheartening. We should be encouraging community participation, not repressing it. Can’t we expect someone associated with CA to promote involvement and diversity in a public plan?
There’s something very wrong when the people who represent our community question the value of participating in it.