Guest opinion: Are we ready for a new paradigm?
Menlo Park City Council members should not spend more large sums of money on consultants who do studies like the failed Santa Cruz Avenue traffic "safety" plan years ago. After that one, the council figured out that fire trucks couldn't maneuver on the redesigned street.
Did someone forget to ask for the fire department's input? Or not know that traffic was actually being directed toward children riding their bikes to school on the bike paths?
We haven't forgotten that, and the fact that the project had to be torn out and redone was another big expense. There are quite a few of these "not-well-thought-out" plans around, all paid for by taxpayers and most were thought up by companies being paid big bucks.
There is no need to re-invent the wheel. A couple of City Council members should go to Portland or Seattle to see what they have done. Or look at what Nevada City is creating (the meetings are being held online) or look online at plans and programs already in place under Intentional Communities. Amazon.com has a handbook on planned community living. And there is an Eco Village in Oakland I believe.
The idea is to share resources, to be near transportation, stores, and have your own space but not live alone. I have spoken to many people my age (57) and they love the idea and wish that was available in Menlo Park. I would be interested myself. We are aging, we don't want to lose independence yet don't want to be alone. We want to be green, to garden, perhaps with those who have land who can't use it the way they want to.
We should develop things that bring the community closer together rather than separate us. As we face more global challenges we will need to be able to depend on each other more. Interdependent societies are much healthier and happier by a long shot.
Instead of cutting services and especially education, we should be able to plan those things into these areas (tutoring or temporary babysitting by the elders or retired in the group). Elders like to know there are others around. Art should be available and there could be ways to share experiences and value people of all ages.
Now is the time for these ideas to come into play. We need them. Our country and our people are having very serious problems and coming together can really help. This could be a permanent fix that will help into the future. Just think, a shed to check out bicycles to use for shopping or a sign-up sheet for a ride to the store. With fewer cars we would have less pollution, more parking spots and less sprawl.
Thanks for listening with an open mind. We are moving into a new paradigm, and need to be ready for it.
Janice Savage lives on Oakland Avenue in Menlo Park.