Passion and purpose lie behind the scenes of every great accomplishment. They are the energizing force which fuels our achievements.”
— Author unknown
Proactive municipal planning, whether it’s for community development or disaster readiness, will place a city in the driver’s seat to understand what the destination is.
Anxious for a spring break, my daughter, Stephanie, asked for permission to visit some friends at Snow College in Ephraim. I asked how she planned to get there. She replied that she wanted to drive and take a few friends with her.
“Do you even know where Ephraim is or how to get there?” I asked.
“No,” was her comeback, but she had “been given directions on how to get there.”
Steph sensed my reluctance, reassuring me that she was 18, mature and that all would be well.
After discussion, my unwillingness softened, and I agreed to her expedition, with the understanding that I was a cellphone call away.
Once she left Layton, and following the directions she was given, all went well until she approached the city of Nephi. Heading south on Interstate 15, she and her friends frequently reviewed the script-map given them, to follow their progress.
The written instructions alerted them to take the “2nd Nephi exit, turn left and follow the road signs to Ephraim — through Moroni.”
Native to Utah culture and keen on understanding the name origin of its cities and towns, Stephanie failed to prepare for the unexpected and was not familiar with the surrounding countryside.
She had envisioned 2nd Nephi to be a place, a city with its own exit, and drove past the designated turnoff. It wasn’t until 30 miles later, when approaching the town of Scipio, that she and her friends realized they made a mistake.
By analyzing recent serious disasters, both in Utah and elsewhere, I am certain that my use of this allegory is understood. My daughter’s planning was more of a whim. She shot from the hip and, consequently, wasn’t ready for what happened.
Local government responded in a similar fashion when Hurricanes Katrina struck the Gulf, and most recently when Sandy came whistling ashore along the East Coast.
As cities and towns, are we ready in our preparation for the unforeseen?
Municipal planning needs to be conducted with channeled insight of the possible future. The sole reason local government exists is to make life better.
Generational foresight pays dividends.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at email@example.com.