Monday, June 03, 2013

First Step Toward Appearance As Overarching

Communities such as Durham, North Carolina, where I live are well advised to create a local inter-agency and inter-organization counterpart to the report assembled each year to meet state statute by the Office of Beautification of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT.)

Durham’s localized version could be more comprehensive and include collected data related to the composition and tonnage of solid waste and recycling as well as roadside mowing, litter removal and indexing, urban forestry, stream clean up, advocacy and beautification efforts, as well as annual public opinion surveys of internal and external stakeholders related to appearance.

It could be coordinated by Keep Durham Beautiful (KDB,) a non-profit embedded in City General Services, but also serving the County.

KDB could gather data from City and County agencies and various commissions, Research Triangle Park, NCDOT, the Durham Appearance Advocacy Group and the Downtown Business Improvement District.

It would also glean information from the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, public, private and charter schools, universities, Preservation Durham, vintage clothing stores, watershed and neighborhood associations and the courts and various law enforcement agencies.

The purpose of aggregating the data would be to help focus benchmarks, illuminate progress as well as inform an overarching strategy. It would also be valuable to overcome fragmentation and to inform progress toward sustainability goals.

Should the City and County strategic plans ever include an overarching strategy, no better case could be made than appearance and clean up. It touches nearly every aspect of these plans including public safety and health, economic development, tax base and valuation, poverty reduction, community pride and image, neighborhood vitality, asset stewardship, quality of life and place, wayfinding and traffic management and much more.

Sure doesn’t sound superficial to me but I probably subscribe to a more holistic view of community appearance.  If there is bureaucratic resistance or inertia, the report could be assembled by the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau as part of its State of Durham’s Image.

Of course, I’ve lent voice to this viewpoint many times over the years with little or no success. The case only becomes stronger with no rival in sight.  Maybe we can start with the report.

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