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VOL. 10 | NO. 17 | Saturday, April 22, 2017

Editorial: Realistic Regionalism And the Road Ahead

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There can be an eye-roll factor to calls for regionalism. And some of that is justified. Over many years, we’ve seen leaders who didn’t want to be near one another – much less agree to anything – emerge from a meeting and declare a breakthrough simply because they had been in a room together.

Finding a realistic balance between competition and cooperation in regionalism is difficult. And it is worth the genuine effort required to realize the billboards along the way touting regionalism aren’t the destination.

The path forward begins with a new way of looking at transportation that considers more than how we get from point A to point B.

Pick any group of citizens to come up with destinations on both ends of a journey many of us take. When that group declares its route priorities, just as many of us will question why a completely different set of routes wasn’t chosen.

When such maneuvering gets out of hand, it becomes difficult to help anyone get anywhere.

We continually question whether public transportation should be rooted in jobs or some form of consumerism. Is its priority to provide transportation for those who have no other way to get around? Or is it for those who have a car but are willing to leave it at home to go some places?

This is the best representation of the complexities and the value found in a larger pursuit of real and proven regionalism.

Germantown is interested in Memphis Area Transit Authority service connected to Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital.

MATA’s goal is to get its trip times down to an hour each way. The transit authority has come up with an estimate that the new service needed to meet that goal in Memphis amounts to $30 million more in annual ongoing dedicated funding.

Meanwhile, a network of green lines, greenways, paths and trails are beginning to mesh with the spread of mixed-use development in suburbs – places where the car may still be king but the castle has more neighbors within walking distance.

It suggests that public transportation is more modular than the rider-repellent bus transfer system that often turns relatively short trips into long, multipart journeys.

There is a big-picture view of regionalism that needs a bigger frame as new generations bring changes in how we perceive borders and what’s “ours” vs. “theirs.”

Our diversity is our strength. It is time to realize that the places we choose to live, the communities we build one life and one family at a time with hopes and aspirations bigger than the tallest skyscraper, are not in competition with each other and are not separate from one another.

They reflect our combined identity, what we strive to be, and how we influence each other in a common destiny and a common place.

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