At Large : Just as we planned
We are not without foresight. We have plans. Indeed, lots of them. By the way, how are those plans of yours - for a new house, a swell vacation, an early retirement - working out for you? I understand.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission assembled an Island master blueprint over several years beginning in the late 1980s. Everyone marveled at the hard work and long meetings that were invested then in the comprehensive planning process, which coincided with the blood and guts battle over the bank/supermarket proposal for James Taylor's old Nobnocket Garage property. That property has not, as it happens, sprouted a bank or a supermarket, or anything else in the intervening 20 years. It has remained on the shelf, as has that long ago master plan and others before it.
If you are one of those master plan mavens, you may remember that particular regional Island plan. No? You may imagine that it is consulted extensively by Islanders in the working out of their everyday lives, in this first decade of the 21st Century. No? Well, perhaps not.
Forecasting is an occupation with a noticeable air of the charlatan about it. When you combine the need to project growth and change with the need to furnish salves for problems which have not yet become problems, the future utility of the planner's end product must be regarded as gravely in doubt. As is, I might remind you, everything familiar to us today. What better example than the unplanned for, undreamt of, unannounced economic troubles of these times?
Of course, there are plenty of questions, but few answers. What will remain when this calamity has passed, if and when it does? And, what happens next? Considering that the finest minds on earth, supremely confident of the miracles they would work, did the planning that led to today's debacle, and considering also that the finest minds still standing, and projecting a witless self-confidence by the way, are attempting the globe's resuscitation, your guess as to what will happen is as good as Barney Frank's. After all, the ancient tools of economists, policy wonks, and politicians, grandly decorated as they may be in their 21st century incarnations, are all utterly unpredictable as to their efficacy.
The new pox of public planning, now infecting a tiny, but intrusive fraction of the community, proposes to set the agenda for the next 50 years of Island life. Like its dusty, disused predecessors, it ignores the basic truths of real planning: That nothing is certain where planning is concerned, especially comprehensive, long-term planning; that the key is that plans must be continuously updated, even daily; and that plans must pay homage to here and now reality, to what's what.
Here and now, the lesson is that it's time to make a new plan, a bottom up not a top down plan. That means, you make a plan for you and your family, or you and your business and employees, not for your neighbors or unborn neighbors to be. And, don't make it a 50-year plan. The challenge is daunting enough day by day. As E.B. White admitted, "I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult."