Learn To Say No
July 10, 2014

There is a famous quote;

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
— Rita May BrownCitation1

If what you have been doing has not worked out for you, the best thing you can do is to stop.

As leaders, planners, advisors, we zone our cities to be auto-oriented oriented wastelands and complain why developers keep building what we asked for. We build in a suburban pattern that requires highways, wide roads, parking lots, all of this infrastructure spread so thin just to get around our own city, then complain it costs to much.

We throw millions of dollars of 'improvements' to attract a retail complex, then believe that the jobs and people that move into town will make up for the money we will never get back - yet as a sales-tax dependent city the only thing that generates us revenue is sales-tax (everything else is a burder), then complain that we are broke.

At some point, we just need to stop and say 'no'. If what we are doing is bad, do not do it!!

If someone ever says they know what they are doing ask them; how has it worked out for you?

If what you are doing is not working out for your community then it is time for change.

You need to learn to say NO. Say NO to the traffic engineer that wants to widen every road because his silly traffic projection says so. Say NO to the strip mall and drive through developer. Say NO to the office that wants to build on the outskirts. And say it with gumption.

But most importantly, offer an alternative. Show them an alternative plan that integrates their development into the town in a human-centric way. Show them your vision of how you want things to be. You do not have a vision? There are plenty of examples.

I do not care if you are scared of not attracting that factory, office, shopping complex, or residential subdivision. If they do not want to play by the rules, you are better off without them.

I am really sick of having people that know what they are doing is bad, but are either not doing anything about it, or are doing too little. We want leaders that will lead. Nobody is going to respect a leader that gets pushed around and is part of the very system they are trying to change. I do not care if you are scared of loosing your job. If you loose your job for trying to improve your community, then there is a better place for you. Never let fear run your life. If you want to be great, then be great and do something about it. I urge every single person reading this to never vote for a leader that does not have a vision.

If you are leader that will not lead, or a planner will not fight for their plan, then why do you even have a job? Never be scared of saying no if it is not what you believe in - stand up for what you know is right.


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Charles Marohn • 07.14.2014 • 23:03 PM (MDT)
So sad - that photo of Brainerd is actually one of our better streets. Pretty low bar. Good post. Let's demand better.