Morgan's Brain

Feb. 4, 2009 at 1:12am

My Manifesto otherwise known as What I Think Tacoma Needs or An Open-Source Campaign Platform for the City of Tacoma

I've been thinking about getting organized lately. With an urbanite and former community organizer in the White House, there's a potential to make some changes in the way that we do things as a nation, as a city, and as a community. As the new administration moves forward, I wonder how the changes being made at the national level are being mirrored locally. How organized are we?

In its Urban Policy Agenda, the Obama administration declares: Our job across America is to create communities of choice, not of destiny, and create conditions for neighborhoods where the odds are not stacked against the people who live there.

How will this happen? Among the long list of Obama's strategies are: Strengthened Core Infrastructure (roads and bridges), Business Incubators, Fully Funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Support Teachers in Urban Schools, Expand Early Childhood Education, Reduce the High School Dropout Rate, End the Dangerous Cycle of Youth Violence, Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities, Improve Access to Jobs, Invest in a Skilled Clean Technologies Workforce, Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities, Use Innovative Measures to Dramatically Improve Efficiency of Buildings, and Foster Healthy Communities.

Ok, really. How will this happen? The trend in Federal government for the past couple dynasties has been to create mandates (i.e. No Child Left Behind), give those mandates to the States, and then not fully fund the States. President Obama states his policy will be a little different: he will actually fund his mandates. What this means, assuming that the world does not implode due to the current financial situation, is states will get that funding which will trickle down to cities. And just as a well-organized city will be in better condition to accept Federal funding, a well-organized community will be in better condition to put those funds to use on projects it deems important.

It is in Obama's spirit of organizing for the good of the community that I offer this Open-Source Campaign Manifesto. Please feel free to comment, critique, steal, or borrow.


Power to the People.

Government can't do everything - and we shouldn't want it to! Vision and action is best when it's community-driven. Community needs the city to support it's plan - and get out of the way. While our community has many needs, it also has many assets which are sometimes hidden in plain sight.

Traditional service organizations typically use a needs-based model for its community work. Through this lens, the community is viewed as deficient. And it seems like there's never enough resources to cover all the needs - as resources rise to cover needs, more needs also rise. Unchecked, this turns into a vicious cycle. Granted, the community has sincere needs and Tacoma is fortunate to have quite a few organizations that are trying to do good work.

However, by focusing on the assets of the community and not the deficiencies, you discover how to do more with less. In today's economy, this is clearly the direction we should go. It may be the only option we have if we want to move forward as a community.

When a community organizes and takes inventory of itself, amazing things can happen. There's one example of a Latino community (in Minneapolis of all places!) that came together and discovered enough hidden talents and connections to open an Authentic Latin American Marketplace - a small business incubator featuring Latino goods and services. With shops specializing in Spanish books to clothing to fresh and prepared foods and services including tax, hair, and insurance, the Marketplace is celebrating its 10th anniversary later this year.

I'm certain Tacoma has potential to do something similar to this, we just need to get organized.

Besides the skills and talents of residents, Tacoma has many other assets that may not be fully utilized including: historic buildings (just look at the UWT campus!), religious organizations, and publicly owned buildings and land (schools, libraries, parks, open space), and business and neighborhood groups.

If we want to see change in our community, it must come from within. To paraphrase Gandhi: be the change you want to see in Tacoma.

Over the next few weeks, I will be updating this post with strategies and areas of exploration for use in creating a dialog for a more sustainable Tacoma. These ideas are meant to be altered, transformed, or even dismissed outright. With a few exceptions, I am not married to my ideas. my goal is to move Tacoma forward. Now, how do we do it?

comments [7]  |  posted under tacoma


by fredo on 3/4/2009 @ 9:26pm
Good for you Morgan!

The most important goal we should try to achieve in our society is full employment. People who are employed are more engaged with and feel more a part of our society. They experience less depression than unemployed people, have more stable family relationships and experience less alcoholism and drug abuse. Unemployment should be a situation we try to resolve as soon as it happens, not something we encourage.

by NineInchNachos on 3/4/2009 @ 9:30pm
You know what I think tacoma needs? An all women's dance night in theme costumes.

by NineInchNachos on 3/4/2009 @ 9:30pm
Wednesday is 'french maid' night.

by jenyum on 3/4/2009 @ 10:06pm
I had this totally hippy fluffy white bunnies and rainbows and unicorns idea tonight (or so my husband says).

The state should develop a "merit lottery" where once a month, the lottery award money goes to someone chosen by one of Washington's communities for his or her record of service and participation.

Every city and county would get to nominate 5 winners a month, and the lottery winner would be chosen randomly in the same way they are now from that pool of people. Odds will obviously be far greater that any given individual will win.

Although there wouldn't be restrictions on the money, the hope would be that since these are people who are already investing in their community, they would stay involved and be able to do much more with their money.

It wouldn't really cost anything to implement.

by Evil_Derek on 3/4/2009 @ 11:43pm
me hope no obama money go to make cross base highway. me hear on radio spain building all kinds of choo choo train. you catch choo choo every 15 min to anywhere in spain! me say america need get shit together and build more god damn choo choo track

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/4/2009 @ 11:45pm
Senor Morgan:

Regarding your interest in capturing the Latino marketplace, I recommend buying an established business. A week or so ago I saw two or three local Latino shops advertised for sale on Craigslist.

I suppose though, based on your Marxist hero posted above (Viva la revolucion!), that you're really mostly interested in capturing a shop–not actually using it as a capitalist tool.

by Erik on 3/4/2009 @ 11:57pm
Over the next few weeks, I will be updating this post with strategies and areas of exploration for use in creating a dialog for a more sustainable Tacoma

Glad to see some goals for the city. One could look around Tacoma and ask "where are we going"?

Now we have a roadmap via Mr. Streetcar.