In his disturbing new book, The Tyranny of Merit, the philosopher Michael Sandel writes: “Not only has technocratic merit failed as a mode of governance; it has also narrowed the civic project. Today, the common good is understood mainly in economic terms. It is less about cultivating solidarity or deepening the bonds of citizenship than about satisfying consumer preferences. This makes for an impoverished public discourse.”
But what about those of us who live in the real world? How are we supposed to negotiate all of this vacuous political nonsense and playground-level social theory? We don't check Twitter every morning to find out how we're supposed to think, or to learn new buzzwords that we're supposed to employ repeatedly in every conversation until the day we forget all about them.
I implore Mr. Miller and others, before we get lost in nonsense tangents* can we PLEASE try to stay focused for a minute and boil things down?
1) Was the strip mall format okay or wasn't it? From day one it was ugly, awkward, and sorely out of place, and yet it was embraced by Victorians. The strip mall has been sitting there for all these years, but downtown Victoria is still a downtown that people want to preserve and protect.
2) Are downtown residential highrises okay or aren't they? Even the uglier ones have been embraced by Victorians. There are now many highrises, but downtown Victoria is still a downtown that people want to preserve and protect.
Maybe things aren't quite as fragile as we like to think? I seem to remember this same point was made by an incoming city manager several years ago now. And we've made the point on this board many times ourselves, referring to numerous examples of tragic demolitions and unfortunate new constructions that would seem to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Maybe residential highrise buildings were never the menace we were all conditioned to suppose they were? For our entire lives we've been told the next downtown residential highrise would be the one that ruins everything. This fear narrative goes all the way back to the days of View Towers. We're still waiting.
Boil it down: what are the specific issues? Are the proposed buildings just too tall, too many units, too much density in one spot? Okay, so if this exact same proposal were scaled back by 25% would it be a perfect fit? More of that good Harris Green vibe?
*okay, now we can resume our nonsense tangents