Tough times can mean many things: lost jobs, natural disasters, inadequate food production, public health disasters, slowing commerce. As a nation we need to do what we can to prepare for tough times, but it’s just as important to have geographically sensible plans across the nation.
To fight tough economic conditions globally, we need to focus locally on regional planning.
One of the first and most enduring of FDR’s New Deal programs was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which still exists today and is a major stabilizing factor in parts of Appalachia, the Midwest, and the South. They provide power (and are leading the charge with wind and solar power in the region), economic development, land use guidelines, public health measures, and so on.
An organization that is tackling the challenge of regional planning in our area is the Ogallala Commons, a nonprofit organization based around the Ogallala Aquifer. They bring together a diverse array of interests to advocate for responsible use of our resources.
We also have an existing governmental entity that has the potential to grow to include most of our regional planning needs: South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG). It encompasses a 15-county region and includes all city and county governments within that region. I believe SPAG needs to take a more active role in regional planning, but, in the finest chicken-and-egg fashion, it needs support from its member governments to do so.
So, what are we regional-planning-conscious citizens to do? Contacting Ogallala Commons, SPAG, and other planning organizations in the area are good first steps, I think. In particular, Ogallala Commons has frequent conferences in the area. The next conference (about local food systems) is near the end of this month: February 24-25 at the International Cultural Center at Texas Tech University.
We can also work to reduce our own footprint as individuals and families. In the near future, I’ll be blogging about making our own lives more sustainable.
What ideas do you have about regional planning?