Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spokane: Near Nature, Actually Already Perfect?

Posted on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 1:29 PM

The Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau released a new video this week that pimps all things Spokane. It's an attractive piece, and it kind of gives you those Spokane-warm-and-fuzzies, with footage of everything from the Nishinomiya garden to Bowl and Pitcher to the crowds outside of Terrain.

Watch it here. (Warning: You might want to substitute your own soundtrack. The song they picked, apparently recorded locally, sounds like the theme song for a saccharine '80s sitcom. Couldn't the SRCVB have found anything a little more understated?)

The visitors bureau did a nice job with the video (though we counted at least two shots of establishments that have long since closed), and, yes, it's the job of the visitors bureau to picture Spokane as Paradise (note the intentional avoidance of potholes and parking lots), but it's a little grating to watch the video after having read Harry Sladich's letter to the editor in the Spokesman-Review today. 

Sladich, the former CEO of the visitors bureau, rails against Envision Spokane and the so-called Community Bill of Rights measure that the group put on the November ballot. Which is fine. But his argument is not that the environmental protections in the bill would get tangled up in the courts, or that the powers given to neighborhoods are already provided in the Comprehensive Plan process. He objects because Spokane doesn't need improving!

He writes:

I do not need to “Envision” a different, better Spokane. We already haveit. We care about the environment. We care about others. We are not“controlled” by corporations. ... We do not need a recent transplant telling us what we need and dividing this community. We can handle it, so thanks anyway.

Spokane should, by all means, continue to promote its virtues and draw people here, but to shout down a grassroots effort aimed at improving the city (whether you agree with the particulars of its policies or not) by arguing that "we" (whoever that is) are already flawless is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, asinine.

Spokane isn't perfect; it's near perfect. That would seem to imply an endless yearning for perfection, a continual march toward the ideal — not the blind dismissal of any idea that challenges the city's supposed supremacy.

We can do better.

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