Sunday, November 29, 2020

That's the work we do

 I was at a meeting the other day and we were listening to a town planner speak. As he spoke he used a phrase that I'd not heard of before, he talked about planning for 'complete communities.' He went on to explain that the term meant that planners had to consider 'all' and by 'all' it was clear that he was speaking about everyone including the long list of minorities. For him, it wasn't an access issue for people with disabilities but an access issue for everyone.

I drifted off a bit because he was, after all, talking about town planning. I began to think of the term 'complete community.' I had interrupted him to ask if that was a term that he used or was it a common phrase in town planning. He said it was a common phrase, I told him that I liked the term and would be stealing it. What I like about the term is its shadow. If there are complete communities, there are incomplete communities. Communities that don't welcome, that don't embrace and celebrate difference, communities whose barriers are as much social as they are physical.

I have only once or twice been at events where there was a complete community of attendance. Those times were amazing and they seared into my brain an image of what the world could be like. We are needed. Without us there is no community, it's incomplete, unfinished, a cake that failed to rise.

After the meeting was over, I shut down my zoom and began to see how planning for and building a complete community is necessary. It doesn't happen spontaneously. It must be made.

And that's the work we do. 

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