Let’s get planning, as in Comprehensive Master Planning!
By Georg’ann Cattelona, BTCC core group member
Who knew city planning could be so interesting? Yep, I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be looking forward to the chance to dive into our community’s Comprehensive Master Plan, the vision for what Bloomington will look like in 2040. But I am.
At our Monroe County Childhood Conditions Summit in December, you may have been introduced to the phrase “what surrounds us, shapes us.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? And the more I have thought about it, the more I have pushed myself to think
“how do my surroundings affect me?”
I think about this when I try to walk to a meeting and the sidewalk ends in front of me at a busy intersection forcing me to actively strategize how to get to where I want to be. I think about it when I am figuring out a bus route to go downtown. I think about it when I talk with friends who are looking for houses to buy and evaluating the quality of neighborhoods and juggling that with cost of housing. I think about it when I walk into the public library and respond to the people and the activity around me. What makes me feel welcome? What draws me in? What pushes me away?
What’s important to me? Well, probably much of what is important to you. In addition to the basic needs of life, including managing my health, I’m trying to eat better, exercise more, enjoy my family, and see my friends. I am trying to do the best I can with the information I’ve got and the resources I can easily get. In other words, I’m trying to work with what surrounds me.
Which brings me back around to the Comprehensive Master Plan. Decisions about where there is housing, childcare and other services, where medical offices are located, how many parks there are, and the culture of the city – that’s what the Master Plan is about. Think about your neighborhood. Are there sidewalks? Can you walk, bike, or take public transportation to services that you need? Okay, you’ve got a car and it is reliable. Great. How far you do have to go? Did you find it easy to find housing? How hard is it to find groceries? What about medical services? Do you know your neighbors? If you wanted to hang out with your neighbors, do you have a sidewalk where you can just stand around and talk? (Sorry. I have a bit of a new obsession with sidewalks).
Here’s the thing: you are actually an expert on your part in all this. You know what makes your life easy and what makes it hard. It’s just most of us haven’t taken the time to translate that information into something that has to do with sidewalks, parks, location of services, and zoning (um, did I say “sidewalks”?).
BTCC will be partnering with ACHIEVE for our next quarterly gathering. We will explore the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan (https://bloomington.in.gov/cmp) and critically examine the ways in which these goals and policies could affect individuals and our community as a whole. We will be joined by someone from the City’s Planning Department, providing a chance to pose questions and concerns directly.
If you are unable to attend, please follow us on Twitter @BTCCIndiana and Facebook to join in the conversation. Feel free to post questions below. If we can’t answer them, we’ll try to find someone who can.
Georg’ann is a birth doula, childbirth educator, and all-around maternal-child health advocate. She is grateful to have found BTCC and is loving all the things that she is learning. The importance of sidewalks and how they affect quality of life is near the top of that list.