They plan on it

I have a friend, Colby, who is into everything. He’s involved in some sort of woodworking club – they get together and swap tips about projects and types of wood and so on.

He’s in a service club. His wife plays Bunco with the neighbor ladies. He works part time at Lowe’s – the lumber department – and he bowls, works out at the Y, and is really involved in PTSA.

Colby’s circle of relationships with different groups of people spread to infinity. You know, your boss and a few of her friends, and she is in numerous clubs whose members have families and so on.

Of course they all fall into a group of people who live in their neighborhood, their town, their city, state, country and on and on. Communities could be a group of writers, artists, civic service groups, small towns or villages within a larger city.

But there is a circle we all fit; the Village News reader’s circle? Could be, each of us here are in the same geography which could be called – our community. Whether we are involved civically or not, we’re still part of the same tribe.

Colby was a believer in joining clubs or teams. You don’t do that because you’re crazy about bowling, duck carving or cycling, you do it for family – the artificial family.

According to anthropologist Robert Redfield, there is a common denominator in how people come together. It’s a stage of human relations. He calls it “folk society” consisting of strong primary personal relationships. That is not to say “primitive societies are moonlight and roses and big cities are automatically personal hells.”

Redfield wrote that, “In every isolated community there is a civilization; in every city there is a [group of smaller communities or] ‘folk societies.’

The reason folk societies can exist under such different circumstances is that the members of the folk society have a strong sense of belonging together.”

In other words people can make a community wherever they want and make their own community be, whatever they want it to be.

The extended family or community, created out of a variety of beliefs or geography, for that matter, could validate a person, give him a place to be in the world and alleviate the pain of loneliness. Community is the answer to the loss, self purpose and loneliness.

Just Google community and see the huge number of entries. Here’s one:  In author Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” the finale of the novel has protagonist George Webber realize, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to escape time and memory.”

But history is like a pillow for a community to rest its head. We build on history allowing it to enlighten our future. In Chesterfield, there sure is plenty of history to go around.

So how do we go about planning for our future and keep history as a blanket and keep our extended family intact? And what’s in our plan and how does it affect us. That is, does your plan for the future impinge on mine? We all want an idyllic place to live. But one man’s ceiling is another’s man’s floor; one man’s waste of time, is another’s passion or one woman’s neighbors, are another’s nightmare.

In other words, how we plan can affect us for a long time to come. When the Countywide Comprehensive Plan was approved, there were a number of gaps in it, such as what is to be done with some of the older plans: Chester Village, Jefferson Davis Plan, Ettrick, Matoaca, Midlothian, Bon Air villages, as well as things such as utilities and revitalization.

Called “Bridge the Gap,” those plans are coming to a critical juncture. It could turn in a number of directions. For the second comprehensive plan, no not that one, the one done in house that didn’t cost $1million, community meetings during this process brought about a community consensus. There was some buy-in and some harrumphing but the job got done.

But to my way of thinking the most important part of a county comp plan are the small parts. What is happening in my little community? How could it really look someday?

The issue: are we getting the opportunity for buy-in? At this point, as each “Bridge the Gap” section is drafted, it is put on the internet for review. For at least 10 days. One of the only ways I know of to review it and make a comment is by going online to the Chesterfield website and finding the planning page and then the draft of the particular piece you’re interested in.

By then you forget why you searched for the page. Aw heck, back to reading my email and playing “Words with Friends.”

If you want to make a comment, consider this: The utility plan, available for comment for two weeks, got four comments.

Section on revitalization next step noted in August:

“Continue reviewing draft project chapters with Board members and Commissioners for input, and begin posting chapters for public review and input.” That boat has sailed.

Sounds like open government to me.


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