Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Love for Durham

My love for Durham is often dismissed, because my job is to promote it. Many things make my job harder than it should be, but one thing makes it much more rewarding: residents have a passion for Durham as a place.

A good example are the mini-blogs below as submitted by readers of the Independent Weekly:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Very Disturbing Information

The information below is disturbing to me because it shows development is outpacing growth in population. But maybe it always has.

“Poor planning has consequences:
Poorly planned strip malls, big box stores, and other developments are replacing our natural areas almost twice as fast as our population grows. In fact, Environment North Carolina research shows that every day, we lose another 383 acres—an area the size of 20 Wal-Marts—to development.”


Friday, May 05, 2006

When Is a Community Polarized?

A New York Times reporter gave the impression recently that the entire community of Durham is polarized over the allegations at a lacrosse team party. I’m almost sure the reporter would justify this generalization as true because people at the fringes seem polarized… but people at the fringes are always polarized.

An expert in these affairs, Peter Sandman, has a nice explanation for why the news media is prone to these exaggerations. Journalists are primarily in the "outrage" business. Many of us are primarily in the "calm down business."

But it isn’t just giving into temptation or lacking the time and space to do in-depth reporting or lack of familiarity that made the NYT journalist generalize Durham as polarized.

Durham is an "activist" community, and activists are also in the "outrage business." Sandman says it’s their stock in trade. In my opinion, any of us with an activist bent can get so locked on powerful institutions that, even when those institutions acknowledge and share outrage, it will never be enough.

With the lacrosse issue, everyone is outraged about something.... at this type of crime, at those who disrespect "innocent until proven guilty" and rush to judgment, at those who mischaracterize the community, at allegations when they are false, at those who exploit these situations to make a point, at people who don’t grasp there is still racism and bigotry in the world etc.

I see myself primarily in the "calm down" business during times like this, but as Sandman notes, we’re all in the "outrage business." I get dialed up that Durham isn’t investing what it takes into promotion and marketing to draw its fair share of visitors.

I get dialed up at people who would rather cannibalize the occupancy tax than emulate it with other special taxes for special purposes.

I get dialed up that we’re burning up land, water and air. I get dialed up that, on my generation’s watch, we’ve fallen into the same mess in Iraq that we promised we would never do again after Vietnam.

I get dialed up at people who are condescending about Durham.

I’m outraged that there is so much poverty and that so many children are born into homes at risk for abuse and neglect. I’m outraged by criminals at any socioeconomic level, whether it be gangs and welfare cheats or preppies and white collar crooks or terrorists of any kind.

This list is too long for a blog. But mostly I’m in the "calm down" business.