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SPEECH President's Message

by Janine Gates

For most of us, Spring signals a new beginning. We pull out different clothes to wear, finally get a winter's worth of junk out of the car, start talking more with our neighbors while puttering in our gardens and start cleaning dog noseprints and children's fingerprints off the house windows. Let's hope our community is ready to do some spring cleaning as well.

Our community's emotions have been as delicate, divisive and unpredictable as the weather lately. We face some serious challenges. As we work through cuts to our local budgets and make difficult choices, we also have an opportunity to find creative solutions and make new alliances.

Two major blueprints that are in need of updating soon are the Shoreline Master Program and the 2011 update of the Comprehensive Plan, which is the policy statement of our community's goals and priorities. Land use and transportation issues will be major components of this latter document.

The Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Plan (CLAMP) steering committee is almost done with its studies and will soon be seeking the public's input on various options about the future of Capitol Lake. The public involvement process for all these decisions is critical. Who are we and where are we going? Where is our common ground? Are we ready to start thinking about this and work together? We better be.

For many, the isthmus issue is indicative of how we will treat each other in the future. Senator Karen Fraser's bill, the undaunted efforts of community members and Mayor Mah's new interest in exploring alternatives with the community may mark a new beginning in how we actively discuss such issues.

This issue is a test, perhaps, of how well we can work together on our city's list of priorities and proceed through complicated conversations about urban density, the continued loss of farmland, our relationship with the county, and the proper collection of impact fees so growth pays for growth.

We must work toward a common vision and ensure that everyone's concerns and ideas are not only heard, but acknowledged and used by city leaders in creating new and better solutions. There are trust issues, to be sure. It's a small town and we all wear several hats. We are intertwined in so many ways. Democracy can get kind of messy sometimes, but when common ground is found, we can all feel pretty good about ourselves and move forward.

Janine Gates is president of SPEECH and can be reached through her website at http://www.janinegatesphotography.com or her new Olympia news blog at http://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

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Updated 2015/01/07 21:14:22