This writer has invited several people to write a guest blog entry on any item they will would be of interest and importance to Yelm & vicinity. Bill Hashim penned this byline, reprinted in its entirety:
Last year about this time I had the opportunity to address Yelms city council. Since Yelm is facing growing pains I had offered to write a grant that would provide free Smart Growth technical help for the city. Council members were appalled that I thought Yelms growth was not smart, and as they were bantering at me I heard one of their voices wanting to know whether I thought they were dumb. I left the meeting wondering what the heck just happened and then I realized that our council members were not aware of the sustainable communities program called Smart Growth. I suspect they are still not aware of Smart Growth principles, or if they are, dont care about a sustainable future for Yelm.
There is a better way to build Yelm. Sustainable development is a philosophy, a way of thinking, and a way of looking at growth through a different set of eyes. Sustainable development is a way of using an evolving set of principles and practices to make decisions that minimize negative environmental impacts while ensuring positive social and economic benefits. Our city council has a responsibility, as community leaders and decision-makers, to create a more livable world for ourselves and our children.
Sustainable development has taken on a variety of meanings, yet one interpretation is generally accepted: Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable development in action aims to minimize negative environmental impacts while ensuring positive social and economic benefits. Sustainable development fosters economic growth without sacrificing the natural resource assets of the community. It promotes community investments, providing returns for investors as well as social and economic benefits for residents. And it encourages meaningful community participation, leadership, and ownership in the decision-making process. Truly sustainable actions and decisions are those that enhance environmental integrity, economic prosperity, and community livability.
Environmental integrity is the protection and improvement of the air, water, and land that all living things depend on for survival. It means not only doing no harm to the environment, but actually enhancing the environment through our development decisions.
Economic prosperity enhances community well being by attracting residential, commercial, and industrial development and encouraging all sectors of the economy to use sustainable practices.
Community livability refers to how we plan, build, and rebuild our communities so that they are vibrant, desirable places that enhance all residents’ quality of life and the social fabric. It means that all of our residents have access to public transportation, job training and employment, and housing that is within economic reach.
These three principles are interrelated – a project that achieves one or two of these elements at the expense of another is not sustainable. Truly sustainable development includes all of the elements and enhances the long term quality of life in our communities.
Using these definitions, readers of this blog will see that Yelm is on a fast track for failure. It is not too late, but we will need to rid ourselves of an ignorant, uncompromising city council; a city council that caters to moneyed interest at the expense of community members. [Ed. Note: Without changing the way things are currently done, our future generations will suffer from the consequences of decisions today. Our job as area residents is to continue to be active participants in our government and to remind our city leaders that the citizens’ and voters’ desires come first, over corporate and single-minded economic development just for growth’s sake – a view limited by blinders. As an example, all of the proponents of the LID were leaders of corporate entities, all of whom do not live here. The opponents were the “little people”, the local voter. HMMM! The LID was approved by this city council.]