Scott Woods: Cities Run on Values
When I reflect on all of the critical conversations I’ve entertained about life in Columbus, I am exhausted by how many of them never consider the values of a city merely concerned with its growth as opposed to a growing city.
A city concerned with its growth will do all manner of things to ensure that happens: allow rampant development, leave failing institutions unchecked, rebrand its deficiencies, advertise diversity it does not actually possess. By contrast, a growing city has, by a notable majority, opted to expand and enrich itself in ways that are less destructive and more inclusive: maintain fair living conditions, prioritize institutions that aid in generational growth (schools, cultural nodes) and so on. Columbus is an example of the first. Most cities are, and the challenge of living in them has a serious learning curve.
Even the word “challenge” is a problem. It’s the kind of thing businesses insert into memos when “problem” or “we’re sorry” is more fitting. Spin like that reminds me of a Malcolm X quote: “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made.” A city concerned with its growth does a lot of stabbing: People get displaced, neighborhoods neglected, schools left to literally rot. And what makes such actions even more egregious is that they’re not accidental.