October 22, 2013 > Eidtorial: Ratings
I am used to ratings, polls and experts telling me what I should eat, where I should live, what television programs are good and what I think about the political landscape. Traditional media gurus have now been augmented by internet sites, blogs and articles that often have little provenance except a web address. Communities and cities can become the happiest, healthiest, wisest or whatever else is promoted through commercial surveys that may or may not be valid indicators. However, good marketers know that everyone wants to be the best, brightest, top 10 or any superlative adjective even if they have to pay for it.
Whatever measurements are used, proof of these accolades can be found in the value placed on the product, service or location by those intimately involved. For communities, citizens ultimately determine their worth through attitude and support of the environment, from basic services, education, recreation and artistic expression. Abraham Maslow expressed this as layers of human needs and wants, beginning with basic physiological and safety concerns, progressing to more existential desires of love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization.
In the greater Tri-City area, external recognition has become commonplace as industries recognize the possibilities of our cities as singular role models rather than adjuncts to nearby locations. For example, recently, Cleantech Open, a competition of innovative clean industry entrepreneurs selected Fremont as the site of their annual gathering. Internally, public and nonprofit agencies have recognized and are meeting the challenges of maintaining infrastructure, providing safe environments and developing our landscape in a responsible manner.
While our communities struggle with the basic needs of MaslowÕs hierarchy, we also have embraced the higher levels of esteem and self-actualization. Parks and family-friendly environments coupled with healthy recreation and sports activities expand our focus beyond our immediate families. We address the desire for love/belonging and creativity through educational resources and, at the peak, fine arts.
Opening of Fremont SymphonyÕs 50th year was a source of pride and achievement for the entire area. The program, a representation of everything we are, evoked images of our heritage, ethnicity, joys and sorrows. From a plethora of instruments, voices and rhythms, Maestro Gregory Van Sudmeier wove a musical fabric that encompassed the entire range of human emotions, history and experience.
Whether you were among the sold out audience or not, this event represented all of us, our highest community aspirations; from those cheering for or playing on sports teams, meeting with friends at home, dancing in different venues, playing with the kids or whatever. Moving beyond pure physiological needs, community group efforts in clubs, sports, community bands, orchestras and theater production groups not only provide creative outlets, but allow us to express pride in shared accomplishments and possibilities.
The epitome of an internal rating system is a shared vision and commitment to progress from single ÒinstrumentsÓ creating a single tone and element to one that combines strength and supplements where weakness is found. Our Innovation Corridor cities need to join together to promote and facilitate development of commercial centers, convention facilities, performing arts centers, sports facilities and the like.
While accolades are welcome, the value of our Southeast Bay Innovative Corridor is not created from external polls or ratings. Recognition of our unique status should simply be a reflection of how we think of ourselves. Each city has developed its own General Plan, how about creating an area-wide General Plan?