There have been lots of bytes spilled recently over the Lexington-Louisville “Super Region.” Read some of it here.
There’s going be brand new study of how Lexington and Louisville can work together better. Why it’s as if this is an absolutely brand new concept being bandied about: what a great idea – these two cities should work together for economic benefit!
Except that the work I did while at Bluegrass Tomorrow was all about exploiting regional enhancements. In fact, in 2005, I wrote a report – excerpted below – about the importance of the Bluegrass connecting not only between places in our region, but to our super region as well as the entire world.
While many people found the report intriguing, there was little interest in actually pursuing the idea. Maybe it was because times were relatively good in 2005 such that there wasn’t any urgency to cooperate regionally. Perhaps it was the messenger; people don’t like being shown too soon that there are flaws in their perceived conventional wisdom. Maybe the recent hard times have convinced people of the necessity to look beyond their narrow borders. So I consider it that I was just 6 years ahead of my time. Yet, once again, here I am to show flaws in today’s conventional wisdom.
Super regionalism shouldn’t only be about how we can make the mass of people richer – which seems to be the entire thought process behind any conventional economic development study but yet hasn’t happened in two generations. I hope instead, that the study finds ways the two largest cities in Kentucky can lead the state into the transition times. We need ways to cooperate on:
- climate mitigation and adaptation
- environmental protection
- alternative energy development
- food security
- effective transportation
- resource husbandry
- local manufacturing
- appropriate education
- healthy lifestyles
- changing Kentucky’s constitution to reflect the times we live in (not the 1890s)
- and cultural and economic authenticity.
THAT would be how we could best work together regionally.
Instead, the $250,000 study appears already set to give us preconceived solutions like “their initial idea is to leverage the foundation laid by Toyota and Ford to spur job growth in advanced manufacturing and related sectors.” And, “I….have felt for many years that the Lexington-Louisville corridor should be like the Dallas-Fort Worth corridor.”
Disgusting, that last one.
These ending points do not reflect any understanding of the low energy reality in which we find ourselves. We will never grow again as we have in the past. We will use less energy because of both scarcity (price) and environmental impact (climate change). That fact will reorder the economy, as it means less credit, less borrowing, less complexity, and less demand. In short, it will lead to the precise opposite place where this study appears to want to go.
Our lives and economy will be locally focused. Any super regional planning needs to address that basic fact.
I’m a big fan of Mayor Gray’s and I hope this leads to the place we really need to be.
I’m not optimistic.
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