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Putting people first (commentary)


The Barber Brief is an independent e-newsletter and blog written by Dr. Alicia Barber on the Substack platform. It is reposted by This Is Reno with her permission.

Restoring vitality to downtown Reno requires one unwavering priority

By Alicia Barber

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the kickoff to 2022 is finding you safe, warm, and well. Like many of you, I’ve been trying to wrap up a number of projects toward the year’s end, so first, a bit of catching up in the world of local development, where a lot has happened over the past six weeks—here are just a few highlights (with links):

We’ve also had a glimpse of more proposed actions coming down the road:

I’ll give some of these upcoming decisions more attention as they get closer, but in the meantime, I want to take a step back and talk about what lies behind the concerns I’ve had with some of the development projects and proposals that have come along this past year. In the end, it all boils down to one question: “Where are the people?”

I don’t mean that just rhetorically. In my last Brief,  “Public Process in Crisis,” I raised concerns about key decisions being made about the form, function, and naming of some of our most central public spaces and places without the direct and deliberate involvement of the people, the city’s own residents. (I’ll have more to say about some of those specific actions and their repercussions in a future Brief.)

Why does that constitute a crisis? Because it’s the job of a representative government to secure the broadest possible benefit from the decisions they make. And there’s a very real, very concrete reason why deliberately seeking out the perspectives, knowledge, and experience of the citizenry is so crucial when it comes to shaping the built environment we share: if you don’t, you may very well end up creating places where most of your citizens will never want to go. And Reno can’t afford to do that any longer.

Read the rest at The Barber Brief on Substack.

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